Politicians want longer comment time on whales

Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Two Alaska politicians want the federal government to extend the public comment period on a proposal to designate nearly 2 million acres of water off Alaska's largest city as critical habitat for beluga whales.

U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan called on the government Tuesday to extend the comment period beyond Jan. 31.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service this month proposed that the upper Cook Inlet, the middle inlet and a strip along the lower western shore, as well as Kachemak Bay, be designated as critical habitat for belugas.

Cook Inlet's beluga whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Only 321 of the animals are left.

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