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Alaska Beat

'Trophy' polar bear kills spark debate in US Senate

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published September 28, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is asking members to address a new sportsmen's bill put forward by incumbent Jon Tester (D-Mont.). The suggestion to address Tester's bill came on the last day of the Senate session before elections and sparked controversy between the two parties. Some Senate Republicans referred to Tester's "polar bear bill" as an election tactic, dismissing it.

The Associated Press reports that Tester's bill came in reaction to 2008 ban on polar bear trophies. The AP said a group of hunters, including two from Montana, were barred from importing "trophy" kills across the border from Canada after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the bears as a "threatened species" while the hunters were in the field.

Tester claims his bill would serve only a few hunters, allowing them to bring trophies held in cold storage back to the United States. But Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer for The Humane Society of the United States, disagreed, saying, "The cumulative impacts of incentivizing this killing over and over again are contrary to American conservation law."

Tester's bill combines 19 measures favorable to outdoorsmen. The bill would:

• Expand hunting and fishing activities on federal lands;

• Allow bow hunters access to federal lands previously closed to them; and

• Encourage federal cooperation in maintaining shooting ranges.

Additionally, the bill would loosen federal environmental laws that cover fishing tackle and ammunition regulations.

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