Effort to List Polar Bear as Endangered Hits U.S. District Court

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

A U.S. District Court judge in Washington DC is hearing arguments this morning  about whether to list the polar bear as an endangered species.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups argue that the polar bear should be considered “endangered” rather than it’s current lower grade of “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.  They filed a lawsuit, but, on the other end of the spectrum, the state of Alaska says the bear is not in danger, and an ESA listing was premature.

The Endangered Species Act requires special protections for species in peril and the state says that could hamper development. The environmentalists contend that the bear is endangered because its losing its home due to sea ice melt, so they want the feds to take action by tightening rules on greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

The judge hearing the case, Emmet Sullivan, is the same judge who presided over the Ted Stevens trial two years ago.

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