Attorney General Issues Statement on Polar Bear Listing
June 30, 2011, Anchorage, Alaska - The District Court for the District of Columbia today upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) listing of the polar bear as a threatened species. The court denied the environmental groups’ motion that the listing was insufficient and the bear should have been listed as endangered. Alaska and others had moved to set aside the threatened listing because it was based on speculative forecasts of habitat loss, and not the species current numbers, which are at an all-time high. The court upheld the USFWS’s conclusion that “there is simply no information in the Administrative Record to suggest that the species has experienced significant population declines or severe retractions in its range such that it is currently on the brink of extinction or that it faced a sudden or calamitous threat.”
“While the State is disappointed the polar bear remains listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the State believes the court was correct in rejecting the environmental groups’ claim that the polar bear should be listed as endangered,” said Attorney General John Burns. “However, given the current health of the species the State continues to believe that it is inappropriate to list this species at this time.”
The court allowed the parties until July 7 to file objections to the ruling. Alaska is reviewing the 116-page memorandum decision to determine what further action, including possible appeal, it should take.
This decision affects just the listing portion of the litigation, not the pending motions for summary judgment on the 4(d) rule claims concerning whether the Fish and Wildlife Service must impose additional regulations.
For information contact Jim Cantor, Deputy Attorney General 907-269-5100.