Chance to shoot polar bear auctioned for $90,000 : 'Disgraceful'

·Environment Editor
·3-min read

An online auction giving shooters a chance to kill a polar bear has been slammed by an animal welfare advocacy group.

With a low reserve of US$25,000 ($34,800), the hunting package ultimately sold for US$65,000 ($90,600) to a bidder on the floor at Safari Club International's (SCI) annual convention, held this year in Las Vegas.

As the US-based hunting advocacy group celebrated its 50th anniversary, the polar bear was not the only wild animal whose life went under the hammer over the weekend.

An online polar bear hunting auction has been criticised by an animal welfare group. Source: Getty / SCI
An online polar bear hunting auction has been criticised by an animal welfare group. Source: Getty / SCI

Other exotic creatures auctioned off to raise funds for SCI included a western Canada moose, a black bear and a leopard.

The group maintain hunting helps promote wildlife conservation, however animal advocacy campaigners World Animal Protection (WAP) argue auctioning rare animals is “cruel and abhorrent”.

'Inhumane and disgraceful': Polar bear hunt slammed

With polar bears listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), WAP's Melissa Matlow argues they deserve compassion.

“Wealthy sport hunters from around the world are gambling on the future survival of a species for a trophy and a photo,” she told Yahoo News Australia from Canada.

“For them, the rarer the species, the better.

“We find this inhumane and disgraceful, and I think most people would agree.”

UK comedian and animal campaigner Ricky Gervais also criticised the hunt, telling the Mirror it was "one of the sickest things ever".

"We’re seeing polar bear numbers edging towards extinction. But they still think it’s OK to shoot them for a laugh," he said

"What planet are they on?"

Hunt will be conducted by Indigenous guide

Questions sent last week by Yahoo News Australia to SCI and the safari company donating the hunt did not receive a response.

The Safari Club International meets annually to celebrate trophy hunting. Source: Reuters
The Safari Club International meets annually to celebrate trophy hunting. Source: Reuters

In line with Canadian law, the expedition will involve in Indigenous guide and will be conducted in a traditional Inuit way.

While WAP support traditional subsistence hunting of polar bears, commercial hunts for entertainment purposes remain controversial and are opposed by the group.

“They are still killing a rare species for a trophy and a photo,” Ms Matlow said.

“Tourists can choose to use Indigenous guides to view polar bears in the wild from a respectful distance.”

China becomes key polar bear skin market after US trophy ban

Between 60 and 80 per cent of the world’s polar bear population live in Canada, the only nation that allows non-Indigenous people to hunt the animals.

Due to their conservation status, the United States and Mexico prohibit the import of polar bear skulls and trophies, however China remains a key market for their skins.

Popular amongst some of the country’s wealthy youth, they are viewed as a symbol of opulence and power, with larger pelts fetching higher prices.

Recently their market price has dropped to CAD$5000 ($5500) for a quality hide, down from up to $22,000, according to a report last year.

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