Monday, August 4, 2008

Alaska Files Polar Bear Lawsuit

Alaska has filed its lawsuit challenging the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species.

The listing, announced by the Interior Department in . . ., is based on a conclusion that the bear's habitat is being lost as ice melts in the Arctic.

According to a report in the Anchorage Daily News:

Polar bears rely on sea ice for hunting ringed seals. In recent years, summer sea ice has receded far beyond the relatively shallow, biologically rich waters of the outer continental shelf, giving polar bears less time in prime feeding areas.

The bear's numbers rebounded after the 1970s, but conservation groups contend that was in response to measures taken to stop over-hunting.

Polar bear researchers fear recent effects of the loss of sea ice on Alaska polar bear populations. A 2006 study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that far fewer polar bear cubs in the Beaufort Sea were surviving and that adult males weighed less and had smaller skulls than those captured and measured two decades previously - trends similar to observations in Canada's western Hudson Bay before a population drop.

However, Alaska authorities argue that the listing was not justified on the basis of
reliable scientific information.

Most experts on the ESA, however, disagree.