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Environment: Oil industry seeks rollback of endangered species listing for Alaska’s bearded seals

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A bearded seal pup. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Conservation group joins legal fray, aiming to maintain protected status

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Oil companies may talk nice about protecting endangered species in Alaska, but when it comes to squeezing just a few more drops of oil from the region, industry fat cats sing a different tune.

Most recently, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute have gone to court to try and strip endangered species protection from bearded seals, animals that rely on Arctic pack ice for much of their life cycle. Continue reading

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Global warming: Citing shrinking sea ice, feds list several Arctic seal species as threatened and endangered

Listing decision underscores climate-change threats to Arctic ecosystems

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Bearded seals are vulnerable to shrinking sea ice, declining snow cover. Photo courtesy NOAA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Recognizing that the best available science suggests a significant loss of Arctic sea ice in the next few decades, federal biologists last week finalized Endangered Species Act protection for two species of ice-dependent seals.

NOAA will list as threatened the Beringia and Okhotsk populations of bearded seals, and the Arctic, Okhotsk, and Baltic subspecies of ringed seals. The Ladoga subspecies of ringed seals will be listed as endangered. The species that exist in U.S. waters (Arctic ringed seals and the Beringia population of bearded seals) are already protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“Our scientists undertook an extensive review of the best scientific and commercial data. They concluded that a significant decrease in sea ice is probable later this century and that these changes will likely cause these seal populations to decline,” said Jon Kurland, protected resources director for NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska region. “We look forward to working with the State of Alaska, our Alaska Native co-management partners, and the public as we work toward designating critical habitat for these seals.” Continue reading

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