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State of Alaska to Sue Over Polar Bear Listing


August 05, 2008

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced Monday the State of Alaska has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to overturn U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's decision to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

This action follows written notice given more than 60 days ago to Secretary Dirk Kempthorne of the Department of the Interior and Director Dale Hall of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking that the regulation listing the polar bear as threatened be withdrawn.

"We believe that the Service's decision to list the polar bear was not based on the best scientific and commercial data available," Governor Palin said.

The Service's analysis failed to adequately consider the polar bears' survival through prior warming periods, and its findings that the polar bear is threatened by sea-ice habitat loss and inadequate regulatory mechanisms to address sea-ice recession are not warranted. The Service also failed to adequately consider the existing regulatory mechanisms, including conservation measures within Alaska and the international community, which have resulted in a sustainable worldwide polar bear population that has more than doubled in number over the last 40 years to 20,000-25,000 bears.

The State takes seriously its obligation and interest in the management, conservation, and regulation of all wildlife and other natural resources within its jurisdiction. Alaska is also responsible for the welfare of its citizens, who are concerned that the unwarranted listing of the polar bear as a threatened species will have a significant adverse impact on Alaska by deterring activities such as commercial fisheries, oil and gas exploration and development, transportation, and tourism within and off-shore of Alaska.

Governor Palin also noted that the State continues to follow the actions resulting from the listing closely. On July 12, the State submitted comments on an "interim final rule" dealing with incidental-take provisions under the Endangered Species Act seeking changes to that rule to exempt all activity outside of the polar bear's normal range from incidental-take prohibitions. "We believe that the Service's decision to treat areas of Alaska where polar bears do not exist differently from the rest of the United States is in error," Governor Palin said.

The public comment period on the interim final rule ended July 14, and while Alaska is hoping for rapid action by the Secretary to adopt a new final rule, it is also evaluating options for challenging the interim final rule if a revised final rule is not adopted soon.

"Although we disagree with this listing determination and with the Service's initial implementation of the decision, we look forward to continued cooperation with the Service in the many other areas involving Alaska's fish and wildlife resources," Governor Palin said.



Source of News:

Office of the Governor


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Ketchikan, Alaska