Native groups to sue over polar bear protection

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ANCHORAGE — Native groups are intending to sue over Endangered Species Act protections for polar bears.

The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is leading a coalition of Native groups that feel the federal government ignored their concerns when it designated critical habitat for polar bears.

The groups sent a letter to the Interior Department on Monday alerting the federal agency that it intends to sue. Tara Sweeney, an ASRC spokeswoman, says protecting polar bears under the ESA is a poor attempt to legislate climate change through regulation.

Polar bears were declared threatened in 2008. More than 187,000 square miles in and near the Beaufort and Chukchi seas has been designated as polar bear critical habitat. The designation is required for a recovery plan.

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