BANGKOK -- A proposal to ban international trade in polar bear parts was rejected on Thursday at a major conference on wildlife trade, highlighting the difficulties of reaching a global consensus on protecting many kinds of endangered wildlife.
The question of whether to upgrade the protective status of polar bears was a leading subject of debate by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or Cites, which is meeting here in Bangkok. Others include proposals to extend protection to three species of sharks, manta rays and freshwater sawfish, and to various species of timber.
The polar bear proposal was put forward by the United States but opposed by Canada, Greenland and Norway, all of which have polar bear populations. A compromise offered by the European Union, which would regulate the trade with export quotas and a tagging system rather than banning it entirely, also was rejected by the convention.
"We are obviously disappointed that the Cites membership failed to give greater protection to polar bears by limiting permissible trade in polar bear pelts and other body parts," David J. Hayes, a deputy secretary of the United States Department of the Interior, said in an e-mailed statement.
Polar bear populations have come under severe pressure as the melting of Arctic sea ice has shrunk their habitats. At the same time, hunting has increased because of soaring prices for polar bear hides, said Dan Ashe, head of the American delegation at the meeting.world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.