There will be a vote this fall at the international CITES Conference of the Parties, that may or may not spell the end of CITES exemptions for exporting hunted black bear specimens from Manitoba, and indeed all of Canada.
The European Union has proposed that there be no exemptions for any hunted specimens listed by CITES, which includes black bears. If the proposal is approved by the international community, it will mean a CITES permit will be required for every black bear and sandhill crane that leaves Canada for the US. The two countries currently have an exemption in place for those species if the hunter personally accompanies the animal across the border, but that would change if the EU’s proposal is approved.
This could mean significantly increased paperwork (and therefore staff time and cost) for Environment Canada, with zero benefit to the bear population, since these exports are already tracked provincially. It would also have the practical effect of preventing outfitters’ clients in Manitoba from taking their bears home with them following their hunt, because it can already take up to six weeks in this province to get a CITES permit for wolves, and we don’t expect that timeline would improve for bear permits.
The Canadian Federation of Outfitter Associations has opposed this proposal and has urged Canada to vote against it at the international meetings, which take place in South Africa from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5, 2016. Outfitters are advised that the existing exemption is still in place at least for the rest of 2015, and hopefully well beyond. We will keep members posted with any developments on this issue.
CITES is a global treaty that governs the movement of plants and animals over international borders, and every three years participating countries get together to vote on proposed amendments to the international rules. One proposal up for a vote this year is the EU’s suggestion that every species listed by CITES should require a permit, removing the ability signatory countries currently enjoy to negotiate exemptions amongst themselves.
Our national organization, the CFOA, has already filed an official submission with Environment Canada indicating we are opposed to this change and urging Canada to vote against the proposal. We are also working with our counterparts in the US to encourage the American delegation to vote likewise.