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State Wants Feds to De-List Polar Bears as Threatened

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State Wants Feds to De-List Polar Bears as Threatened

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Christina Grande CREATED: 10/21/2009 10:52:16 PM AKDT

The State of Alaska filed a lawsuit with the federal government to remove polar bears from the Endangered Species Act. The state also aims to make sure Ribbon Seals do not make it onto the list as well. The state rolled out a 3-part plan, Wednesday, October 21st. First, it supported the federal government decision by not adding the Ribbon Seal to the Endangered Species Act. It also wants the state to have more power when it comes to labeling species endangered or threatened and lastly, remove polar bears from the Endangered Species Act list. "Currently, some are attempting to improperly use the Endangered Species Act to shut down resource development," said Governor Sean Parnell, R - Alaska. Polar bears were added to the threatened list of the Endangered Species Act in 2008, due to the threat of retreating sea ice and climate change.

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The Parnell administration filed a lawsuit in federal court that would remove this group from the list. "It was based on uncertain climate change, predictions about the future and it involves polar bears with a population that is at an all time historical high. The administration says the number of polar bears jumped from ten thousand in the 1970's to about 25 thousand world wide as of today.

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State Wants Feds to De-List Polar Bears as Threatened


"One of the key elements of this listing decision was this nexus between the issue of decline of sea ice would lead to a decline in population. We have had some decline in sea ice but we haven't had decline population, so the theory upon which the entire listing is based into the future basis Advertisement actually not born out by the facts on the ground," said Attorney General Dan Sullivan. According to the administration and environmental group, that increase is attributed to better management over the years since the 70's when there was a lot of polar bear harvests. "Thanks to the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a lot of the harvest has been curbed and the population did go up over the last 20-25 years but it is, now the loss of sea ice, in decline," said Rebecca Noblin with the Center for Biological Diversity. There are 19 polar bear sub-populations world wide and while some of those are seeing an increase, environmental groups say the two groups of polar bears in Alaska are actually declining. "We are certainly disappointed to see that the state of Alaska continuing it anti-science policy," said Noblin. The state worries that protection of the polar bear could needlessly threaten Alaska's economy. "The long term ramifications, we believe of this legal theory gaining wide spread acceptance could potentially preclude resource developments and economic throughout much of our state. In essence, making Alaska the world's largest zoo with no additional benefit to our wildlife," said Sullivan. The state's lawsuit came down a day before the U.S. Department of Interior is expected to give its own big announcement. When the polar bears were listed under the Endangered Species Act last year, the federal government did not specify the critical habitat that would be protected; it is expected to say what those critical habitats are on Thursday, October 22nd.

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"Currently, some are attempting to improperly use the Endangered Species Act to shut down resource development," said Governor Sean Parnell,...

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