Alaska AG to challenge polar bear listing

Chris Rizo May 21, 2008, 7:54pm

Talis Colberg

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Legal Newsline) - Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg will challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to list polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday.

The Republican governor said there is insufficient evidence to support the threatened status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The polar bear was put under the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act amid fears that global climate change is causing the polar ice caps to melt, thereby threatening the vitality of the big bears, even though the bear's numbers currently are not in a precipitous decline.

Palin, who appoints the state attorney general, said Colberg's office will file a complaint under the Administrative Procedure Act, arguing that the decision to list a "currently healthy species is based on not only the uncertain modeling of future climate change, but also the unproven long-term impact of any future climate change on the species."

The governor said polar bears are currently "well-managed and have dramatically increased over 30 years" as a result of conservation measures.

"A listing of the polar bear under the ESA will not provide additional conservation measures," the statement said.

By affording the big bears special protections, the federal government is required to protect the bears in Alaska, the only place in the United States the species lives, as well as in places the U.S. issues permits.

U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said the listing is not a means to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from such things as automobiles and industrial sources.

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