Animal experts are saying there has been a rise in trophy hunters seeking out polar bears in the Canadian area of the Arctic Circle through organised trips.
In fact, the surge has been so extreme that more than 5,000 polar bears have been killed for sport in the area in recent years, according to The Mirror.
A haul of 17 polar bear trophies have also been legally imported into the UK alone since 1995, as specialist hunting companies target Brits, Americans and the Chinese.
Eduardo Gonçalves, of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, told the newspaper: “It is well known polar bears are in serious danger of becoming extinct because of climate change.
“If we want to see them survive, we need to stop the senseless slaughter.
“The Government should ban imports of all hunting trophies right away.”
The Mirror reports that some companies may charge £36,000 for a 12-day hunt, with tourists also able to enlist the services of a taxidermist to turn the animals into decorative rugs.
A company called Quality Hunts – which advertises such £36,000 trips – says on its website: “Your hide, skull and baculum bone will be shipped frozen by a recommended Canadian taxidermist.
“There it will be fleshed, cleaned, properly salted and tanned. Once properly prepared, your hide can be stored for many years.”
Nebraska-based Worldwide Trophy Adventures also gives its customers an offer to ‘return for another 10 days if a polar bear is not taken’.
“Hunting is carried out on the sea ice in prime areas,” its website explains.
“Services of an Inuit polar bear guide with a team is provided through the duration of the hunt.
“The hunt ends when a bear is harvested.”
The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting’s Gonçalves continued: “How can anyone justify having a polar bear body in their home as a trophy or for so-called ‘personal use’?
“Sixty-seven different polar bear body parts came into Britain in 2017, so far 61 have been logged for 2018.
“The IUCN Red List assessment in 2015 showed polar bears are facing multiple threats.
“As well as dwindling food resources because of shrinking sea ice, they face threats from oil and gas drilling, toxic waste pollution, new diseases as a result of global warming, and busier shipping lanes.
“The last thing they need is for trophy hunters to go around shooting them for fun just so they can pose for a selfie and have a bear’s head over their fireplace.
“There are 25,000 polar bears left. Yet CITES [the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention]… allows trophy hunters to shoot some of the world’s most endangered animals. This is scandalous.
“Government officials are meeting in Geneva next month to discuss the future of CITES. They should close this crazy loophole immediately.”
Dr Teresa Telecky, of the Humane Society International, added: “Polar bears are being pushed to the brink of extinction by climate change.
“Without ice, they are forced onto land where they are easy targets for trophy hunters.
“Canada is cashing in on this crisis. If it won’t act to save this species, other countries must.”
There are now estimated to be as few as 20,000 polar bears remaining in the wild, according to a petition from the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting – which now has more than 6,000 signatures of the 12,800 goal.
“As many as 5,000 polar bears have been killed by hunters in recent years for trophies, skins, bones, and gall bladders,” it says.
“It is time to act to save our polar bears – before it is too late.”