Polar bears to benefit from proposal to safeguard critical habitat

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Proposed rule would help polar bears survive impacts of global warming, protect the Arctic Refuge

(10/22/2009) -

Summary:

• The Interior Department today announced its proposal to designate more than 200,000 square miles of critical habitat to protect struggling polar bears in the Arctic.
• The critical habitat proposal includes both Arctic sea ice and terrestrial habitat for polar bears.
• The inclusion of denning habitat for polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should help safeguard this important habitat from oil and gas drilling.

WASHINGTON (Oct. 22, 2009) – The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president for Defenders of Wildlife:

“The polar bear is on the front lines of the battle against the mounting impacts of climate change, with its habitat melting away and its food becoming scarce.

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the nation’s most important onshore polar bear nursery, and Interior’s decision to include the coastal plain in their proposed critical habitat designation validates the region’s biological importance to polar bears and other wildlife. Today’s announcement reinforces the argument that Congress should not permit oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

“It is a testament to this administration’s renewed emphasis on sound science and transparency that the proposed critical habitat designation does not limit the type of activities that may require consultation under the Endangered Species Act. This stands in direct contrast to the underhanded efforts by the previous administration to preclude consultation on those activities that would produce greenhouse gas pollution, further exacerbating the factors causing polar bear sea ice habitat to melt.

“Global warming is the number one threat to polar bears today. We’re glad that the Interior Department recognized this, and chose not to prevent the consideration of the climate impacts of activities in the bears’ proposed critical habitat.”

Read the Interior Department proposal and view maps of the proposed critical habitat

Learn more about Defenders’ work to safeguard polar bears and their habitat.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

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Contact(s):

Cat Lazaroff, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-3270

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