One and a Half Cheers for Interior Secretary Salazar

Exactly a year ago President Bush's Interior Sec. , Dirk Kempthorne, under pressure from greenies and global warmists, invoked the U.S. Endangered Species Act to list polar bears as "a threatened species."  The listing was idiotic; in fact polar bear numbers have doubled worldwide over the past 30 years. And three years earlier Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, acting on the advice of people who actually live around polar bears, had filed suit against the Dept. of the Interior to prevent the listing.

Alas Gov. Palin's efforts only forestalled the listing. But at least Sec. Kempthorne saw through part of the greenie-weenie ploy and called their bluff: "This listing, " he warned last year, "should not open the door to use of the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants, and other sources."

Near the buzzer for the Bush administration (Dec. 11th) Sec. Kempthorne passed a "special rule" codifying that caveat. "No action outside the Arctic region could be considered a threat to the bear under the law." In other words, greenie groups and global warmists could not invoke the polar bear's threatened listing to move against a power plant in Florida or SUV emissions in Arizona.

As proof of the "Gotcha!"This last minute rule provoked a tantrum everywhere from The World Wildlife Fund to Greenpeace to the Center for Biological Diversity whose officer, Kassie Siegel, wailed that "the Bush administration is handing its friends in the oil industry a huge gift. These regulations seem designed to drive the polar bear extinct!"

"With just 40 days left until the Bush administration is finally out of office, " wailed Melanie Duchin of Greenpeace USA , "the Interior Department is trying to put one last nail in the polar bear's coffin."

So the greenies and global warmists set their sights on the new Interior Sec. Ken Salazar, bombarding him petitions to overturn the Bush team's last minute "special rule." 

Several days ago Sec. Salazar handed down his decision, upholding the Bush rule:

"The Endangered Species Act is not the appropriate tool for us to deal with what is a global issue. When the ESA was passed, it was not contemplated it would be the tool to address the issue of climate change."

A massive relapse of greenie tantrums ensued: "You're adding to the risk of the species," wailed John Kostyack, of Defenders of Wildlife, "There is no reason to let polluters off the hook. Each smokestack is just like buying another pack of cigarettes."

"The polar bear is threatened," wailed California Sen. Barbara Boxer from the polar bears historic habitat around San Francisco's mansions. "We need to act." she stresses.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hailed the decision as a "clear victory for Alaska."

Sadly a major threat to polar bears came from Kempthorne's initial listing of them as "threatened" back in May of 2008.

As mentioned, there are roughly twice as many polar bears in the world today as thirty years ago. In 1972 the creatures had already lost value in the US when the Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibited their hunting in Alaska. (And no, it's not the hunting ban that caused their increased numbers; they proliferated equally in Canada which continued the polar bear season.)

After 1972, US hunters started hunting polar bears in Canada. But Kempthorne's listing of them as "threatened" means that US hunters are now barred by law from bringing their trophy bear skins into the US. So again polar bears have lost value.

Lately hunters (primarily from the US) had been paying $30,000 for the chance of whacking a polar bear during a grueling hunt in the Canadian arctic on dogsleds and in subzero weather. If successful, then the hunter's taxidermist landed another $5,000 or so for converting the beast's epidermis into an infuriatingly politically-incorrect rug for the hunter to display to his politically-correct guests at dinner parties. Generally speaking, the most spirited reactions from guests came after uncorking the eighth bottle of wine.

Most of these guests were usually his wife's friends from the local Art Council and Kayak Club and spittle sometimes landed on his valuable rug of thick white fur, but without lasting damage. The often lipstick-smeared sprayings quickly evaporated and whatever effort was involved in wiping them up was well worth the spectacle of pulsating veins on pretty crimson-hued foreheads with earrings jangling below from the bobbing motions, along with the slender, perfumed (but always white-knuckled) fists constantly thrust to within millimeters of his nose.

"Ah, but they look so sexy that way!" the hunter would always remark to his glowering wife as she frantically motioned the guests into another room. "Like a woman in a Tango!" the smirking hunter persisted. "In the words of legendary poet, Jorge Luis Borges: 'The tango shows that a fight may be a celebration!'"

Alas, the hunter's philosophical reflections were always lost on his guests - not to mention his wife.

At any rate, most of the $30,000 spent by the hunter for his foolproof conversation piece went to Canada's Inuit (Eskimo) communities whose members had served as his guide, cooks, outfitters, etc., during the hunt. The Eskimos also got the polar bear meat, which has been a historic staple in their diet.

"It's Inuit food," says Canadian Inuit Jayko Alooloo in an interview with Canada's CTV, "like cows for you southern people.''

Alooloo also regards the newly-designated status of polar bears as "endangered" as a complete crock.

"They're actually increasing every year," he says. But what does he know? He only lives amongst them? Whereas, from his Washington D.C. Office, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne relied on computer weather model to predict that in 50 years, due to Global Warming's effect on arctic ice fields, polar bears will decrease in numbers. My own weatherman's computer model's rarely get it right for the next three days. Kempthorne's nails it for the next fifty years!

Recreational hunters (again, overwhelmingly from the US) pumped $3 million a year into Eskimo communities for polar bear hunts. These Inuit communities get a quota of bear tags (licenses) from the Canadian government to use as they see fit. They can hunt the bears themselves for the meat, and for the roughly $1000 per hide if they sell it. Or they can sell the tag to a recreational hunter for $30,000 - serve as his guide, (i.e. experience most of their culture's traditional and integral parts of the hunt) and still keep the meat. Only a Federal bureaucrat would miss the implications here.

In fact, these hunts being such an integral part of their culture, a few Inuits elect to retain the tags for themselves to do the killing. The new ruling means that now they'll probably keep all. A recreational hunt lasts a few days and - like all hunting - does not always climax with kill. But the tag is considered used once it's sold to a recreational hunter, kill or no kill. On the other hand, Inuit hunters always kill a bear because they have months to fill that tag. So now that US recreational hunters are barred by US Federal law from bringing home their conversation-piece rug, they have stopped buying the tags. So the Inuits have no choice but to keep their tags, assuring that more polar bears will be killed.

Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Exposing the Real Che Guevara. Visit