Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, is to stop the importation into the UK of hunting trophies from endangered species, including stuffed and mounted polar bears killed by sportsmen in the Arctic. He will also press the European Commission to take action against the trade in polar bear parts to protect the endangered mammals. His intervention came after The Independent on Sunday revealed last week that rich sportsmen are paying up to £17,000 per trip to hunt down and kill polar bears. Fewer than 25,000 polar bears are believed to remain in the wild and experts believe that 1,000 are being shot by hunters and poachers each year.
Mr Benn said that the hunting of polar bears was "unacceptable", particularly because their habitat is already being destroyed because of global warming.
"The UK Government does not have the power to intervene directly in the protection of wildlife in other countries but we would not hesitate to refuse the import of hunting trophies, including from polar bears," he said.
Polar bear trophies are in demand, with rug collectors paying around £5,000 each for pelts. Some trophies come from hunting expeditions in Canada while others are thought to come from illegal kills in Russia.
Despite Mr Benn's intended ban on the skins, polar bear rugs are available though the internet and are shipped to Britain. An 'IoS' reporter was offered the skin and fur of a 7ft 6ins male polar bear offered for sale on one internet site for £6,000 plus shipping.Reuse content