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Import of bear trophies from Russia to Finland permitted

Press release 2011-01-24 at 12:00

Photo: Riku Lumiaro

The ban on importing bear trophies from Russia to Finland has been lifted. The European Union's CITES Scientific Review Group has decided to change its opinion on the import from a negative to a positive one. Between 14 September and 3 December 2010, a ban was imposed on EU imports of trophies of bears hunted in Russia.

The European Commission requested that the Russian CITES authority submit additional information on the size of Russia’s bear population and its sustainable management. On the basis of clarifications provided by the Russian authorities, in its meeting of 3 December 2010 the EU's CITES Scientific Review Group decided to give a positive opinion for such imports.

Despite this change of policy, it is highly probable that the Scientific Review Group will rediscuss the state of Russia's bear population and bear hunting in Russia. Such a discussion will concern bear hunting practices and methods of assessing bear populations. In the future, the scientific review group may either confirm its positive opinion or resume its negative one. The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) therefore recommends that those hunting or planning to hunt bears in Russia closely monitor the SYKE website (www.ymparisto.fi), or contact CITES experts at SYKE.

Even if a CITES export permit for a killed bear has not been applied for or granted from Russia, a CITES import permit may be sought from SYKE. A CITES import permit may still be granted in line with normal procedures, if a properly completed application has been submitted prior to a new negative stance being taken.

SYKE also recommends that hunters or hunting trip organisers obtain copies of Russian permits and hunting-related documents. If a negative opinion covers the bear population in a certain area, trophies from other bear populations can only be imported if evidence is provided confirming that the bear came from a permitted population.

Bears are a strictly protected species

In the EU, bears are protected under Annex IV of the Habitats Directive. For this reason, bears are listed as a strictly regulated species in Annex A of EU CITES legislation. A CITES import permit is required for importing any species listed in Annex A, as well as parts of such species and products manufactured from them. In Finland, these permits are granted by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

Wild specimens of species listed in Annex A may not be imported into the EU (or exported from the EU) for commercial purposes. This means that bear trophies imported into the EU cannot be sold or otherwise commercially utilised. In practice, the trophy must remain with the hunter or his or her heirs. The only other option is gratuitous transfer of the trophy, using a deed of transfer, to a non-commercial body for non-commercial purposes.

Further information

Ms Stella From, Senior Adviser, SYKE, tel. +358 400 148 673, 
firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi


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