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Reissuance of Interim Special Rule for the Polar Bear


January 27, 2012
Contact: Cathy Rezabeck, 907-786-3351

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announces a notice that
codifies the November 18, 2011, court-ordered reinstatement of an interim
final special rule governing management of polar bears under the Endangered
Species Act (ESA). In its ruling, the court stated that the Service was
required to review potential environmental impacts of its December 16,
2008, final special rule for the polar bear under the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and that the May 15, 2008 (73 FR 28306),
interim final special rule will be in effect until this is done.

The reinstated interim final special rule is substantially similar to the
final special rule. In most cases the rule adopts the conservation
regulatory requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (CITES) for the polar bear as the appropriate regulatory provisions
for the species. Which means that any activity that is already permitted or
exempted under the MMPA or CITES does not require additional authorization
under the ESA. The rule applies the standard ESA protections for threatened
species when an activity is not covered by an MMPA or CITES authorization
or exemption. It does not alter the Section 7 consultation requirements of
the ESA.

The interim final special rule does not affect the critical habitat
designation for the polar bear that became effective January 6, 2011 (75 FR
76086, December 7, 2010). Moreover, this rule will not affect the status of
the polar bear under State laws or suspend any other legal protections
provided by State law.

The interim final special rule will publish in the Federal Register on
January 30, 2012, and have an immediate effective date. It will be
available online at: http://www.regulations.gov. For more information on
the interim final special rule and other issues on polar bear conservation,
please visit http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/esa.htm.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife
and plants. The Service works to actively engage conservation partners and
the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and
recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species
Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to
conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats
for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and
trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific
excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated
professionals, and commitment to public service.
For more information on our work and the people who make it happen,
visit www.fws.gov.

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