Judge Upholds Threatened Status of Polar Bears

A judge on Thursday ruled the federal government was correct in listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008 because of global warming. The state of Alaska was suing to remove protections for the bear. At the same time, the Center for Biological Diversity was suing to increase the bear’s status–to endangered. Kassie Siegel with the CBD calls the ruling “mixed.” She wishes the judge had ruled in favor of the endangered listing, but was glad he wasn’t swayed by the state’s argument.

Siegel says since the polar bear was listed as threatened in 2008, the animal’s plight has gotten much worse. She says the center may appeal the ruling.

The state argued the threatened listing was speculative, because it relied on forecasts of habitat loss due to climate change.

Dan Sullivan was Attorney General when the state first filed the lawsuit. Now he is Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, but he offered a quick response to the ruling today.

The Department of Law says it’s reviewing the 116-page decision and considering whether to appeal.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie