Polar Bear Threatened Listing Weakened by Contradictions

"I'm relieved the Fish and Wildlife Service finally did the right thing in giving the polar bear the protection it deserves, but the contradictions attached to this decision call into question the administration’s intent," said John Kostyack, executive director of wildlife conservation and global warming with the National Wildlife Federation

05-14-2008 // Miles Grant

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued its decision to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. The decision comes only under court order and more than three years after the FWS was first petitioned to protect polar bears.

John Kostyack, executive director of wildlife conservation and global warming with the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

"I'm relieved the Fish and Wildlife Service finally did the right thing in giving the polar bear the protection it deserves, but the contradictions attached to this decision call into question the administration's intent.

"Despite the acknowledgement that the polar bear is threatened, the administration disturbingly states that there is insufficient data to establish a causal connection between industrial facilities that release global warming pollution and the disappearance of Arctic sea ice. The administration is missing the bigger picture and avoiding the gravity of the global warming crisis. The contradictions in this listing demonstrate that the administration is running away from the real consequences of its decision. This listing highlights the critical need for U.S. leadership in capping global warming pollution.

"The administration also signaled that it would take no steps under the Endangered Species Act to protect the polar bear from the massive oil and gas development currently planned in the very heart of its habitat. But the Endangered Species Act provides crucial protections to curtail this kind of activity. Implying that existing laws are sufficient to protect threatened polar bears is simply wrong.

"This decision should highlight for all of us the larger problem: Global warming threatens increasing numbers of wildlife species, and threatens the natural resources on which people and wildlife depend.

"The most important next step to save the polar bear and many other wildlife species is to reduce global warming pollution by two percent a year through mid-century. The Climate Security Act expected to come before the Senate next month would put us on that path."

Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, who testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the polar bear in April, said today:

"The plight of the polar bear is unfortunately the tip of the iceberg, an early sign of the dangers facing America's wildlife in a warming world. Polar bears, moose, salmon and trout, many of America's most popular birds, and more--the list of species impacted by global warming is only growing longer. Global warming is already causing problems--stronger hurricanes, rising sea level, more Western wild fires. The time to take action to reduce global warming pollution is long overdue."

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2008
Contact: Miles Grant, National Wildlife Federation, 703-864-9599, grantm@nwf.org

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