“A proposal by the US to ban cross-border trade in polar bears and their parts was defeated on Thursday at an international meeting.
The result marks a victory for Canada’s indigenous Inuit people over their bigger neighbour to the south. […]
There are about 25,000 polar bears left in the world with an estimated 16,000 living in the Canadian Arctic. Canada is the only country that permits the export of polar bear parts.
Each year around 600 polar bears are killed there, mainly by native hunters. According to Inuit representatives, the pelts from around 300 bears are sold for rugs. Other parts including fangs and paws are also exported.
The Inuit say they get an average of $4,850 per pelt. They argue that this is a critical economic resource for a people that do not have much else.” [photo]
Stranded polar bears on Cross Island outside Prudhoe Bay. Oil giant Shell recently received permits from the US government to operate two drilling rigs in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas starting in 2012. Environmentalists are concerned that if Shell is allowed to go ahead and open up these icy seas to its oil rigs, this untouched wilderness will be irrevocably tarnished. Cleaning up an oil spill in Arctic waters has not been proven possible, despite this Shell still claim that they will be able to clean up 95% of any oil spilled.