Feds propose 226 million acres of critical habitat
FRISCO — One of the largest-ever critical habitat proposals won’t do anything to slow the decline of Arctic sea ice or halt the buildup of greenhouse gases, but it may give ice-dependent ringed seals a fighting chance to survive the Arctic meltdown.
Listing decision underscores climate-change threats to Arctic ecosystems
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.
Endangered pinnipeds could lose 70 percent of their breeding habitat this century
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A citizen petition requesting endangered species protection for ringed seals has resulted in some fundamental research on sea ice and snowpack, and the results are not good news for the seals.
Shrinking sea ice extent means that more than two thirds of the area with sufficient snow cover for ringed seals to reproduce also will disappear, according to the study published the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Ringed seals build caves to rear their young in snow drifts on sea ice. They need at least eight inches of snow to construct the breeding shelters.