Trade bans hurt Inuit and do nothing to save polar bears

Polar bears may be an example of an emerging problem: the use of trade bans instead of concrete action against non-trade threats such as climate change, according to a new study co-written by University of Saskatchewan wildlife researcher Doug Clark.

Clark, School of Environment and Sustainability Centennial Chair at the U of S, explains one consequence of this approach is it could cause key stakeholders like the Inuit to lose faith in community-based conservation measures, ultimately diminishing prospects for threatened species.

The research paper, published in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation, looks into the impacts of international trade bans on conservation measures for threatened wildlife such as the iconic Arctic bears.

The researchers noted that in the Canadian Arctic, import and trade bans negatively affected the livelihoods of Inuit communities without actually reducing the number of bears harvested.

Clark said that Indigenous communities may respond to further bans by participating less in conservation efforts such as co-management activities.
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