Tuesday, March 11, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Three conservation groups sued the Department of the Interior on Monday for missing a deadline on a decision to list polar bears as threatened because of the loss of Arctic sea ice. A decision was due Jan. 9, one year after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the animals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Agency Director Dale Hall said in January that officials needed a few more weeks to make a decision. But two months later, no decision has been announced.
Polar bears depend on sea ice for hunting seals, denning and giving birth. Conservation groups claim the loss of sea ice due to global warming is accelerating.
"Doing nothing means extinction for the polar bear. That's what the administration is doing — nothing," said Kassie Siegel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity and the lead author of the 2005 petition that sought the listing.
Her group, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace Inc. asked the federal court in San Francisco to order administration officials to make the decision.
Hall said in January he did not like missing the deadline but, "It is far more important to us to do it right and have it explained properly to the public."
Bruce Woods, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman in Anchorage, said he could not comment on pending legal action. "We are still working as fast as we can to get the decision announced," he said....(Click here for remainder of article).