Reckless protection

The following editorial first ran Dec. 27, 2012.

Alaskans love soft furry animals as much as the next guy.

But implementing regulations to protect animals based on long shots and hunches is irresponsible for the state and the nation.

Alaska is a natural resource-rich state, which benefits Alaskans as well as all Americans. But it can’t fully develop when the feds make foolhardy decisions, and that foolishness affects the whole country. The nation goes the way of its states.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has decided to categorize ringed seals and bearded seals as threatened. The decision is based on a guess of what the world would be like 100 years from now, not on the existing conditions in the Arctic.

Alaska and its development entities are already concerned with seals and other wildlife. Development and wildlife co-exist well in Alaska.

The categorizing of the seals as threatened means developers will have to consult the National Marine Fisheries Service before proceeding with a project, thereby increasing the number of hoops that each developer will need to jump through.

What the NOAA did “defies research that indicates no evidence of decline in the seal populations presently,” according to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, “and appears to ignore the fact that the United States and Russia have begun a rigorous two-year process together to survey and assess the seal populations in the Bering Sea to inform policy decisions accurately.”

In other words, seals are plentiful, and making a decision before receiving the survey results is unwise. NOAA’s decision is unneeded and based on insufficient evidence.

It should rein in its horses, and let the two-nation scientific study guide the seals’ welfare.

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