The Interior Department on Thursday proposed designating more than 200,000 square miles of land, sea and ice along the northern coast of Alaska as critical habitat for the shrinking polar bear population.
“The area, the largest single designation of protected habitat for any species, encompasses the entire range of the two polar bear populations that exist on American land and territorial waters,” reports the New York Times today.
Once habitat is designated, federal agencies are prohibited from taking any actions that may “adversely modify” it. Species for which critical habitat has been designated have been found to be more than twice as likely to be recovering, and less than half as likely to be declining, as those without it.
“We all know that polar bears are in serious long-term trouble. Today’s designation of critical habitat is an essential step toward saving this increasingly imperiled species. But we have to do much more if we are to save the polar bear from extinction,” said Andrew Wetzler, director of NRDC’s Wildlife Conservation Project. “Controlling greenhouse gas emissions, reducing commercial hunting in Canada, and stemming the tide of toxic chemicals in their habitat are all necessary to ensure this magnificent animal’s future.”
Thanks to Priscilla in France for submitting the link!