Polar bear with cub, © Scott Schliebe/USFWS

Court Weighs in on Polar Bear Plight

Good news came for polars bears last week when a federal judge struck down a Bush administration rule that exempted greenhouse gas emissions from regulation under provisions of the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the Department of the Interior violated provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act when it issued a special rule that excluded from regulation activities occurring outside the range of the polar bear, such as greenhouse gas emissions from big polluters like coal plants.

Thanks to Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace, who challenged the Bush exemption in 2008, the government must now go back and undertake a full environmental analysis of the situation of the polar bear, and what must be done to prevent its disappearance forever.

The polar bear was the first species added to the endangered species list primarily because of threats from climate change. Its melting Arctic habitat is among the most striking examples of how warming temperatures are changing the face of the planet. Dependent on sea-ice to find food, mates and den and raise their young, polar bear populations have been severely impacted by their shrinking habitat.

Jason Rylander, senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, said,  “Just this summer, Arctic sea ice reached its second lowest level on record, making polar bear protections more important than ever. Only by acknowledging and accounting for the dramatic effects of climate change can this administration give this Arctic icon a realistic chance of survival.”

But wait, there’s more! The same day, the court ruling came to uphold the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to prohibit the importation of sport-hunted polar bear trophies following the listing of polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This adds another layer of protection to the imperiled Arctic icon.

Times are tough for polar bears. Hopefully, actions like this will make sea-ice survival just a little bit easier.

Learn more:

Read the full press release here.

Read Defenders report, Sea Bear Under Siege, to see our recommendations for helping polar bears survive in a world with less and less sea ice.

4 Responses to “Court Weighs in on Polar Bear Plight”

  1. Margot Schneider

    In my mind the ice bears are not far from extension due to the warming up of our planet.
    Therefore, each success is a step to the right direction. We all have to be aware that humans have the duty to do everything to avoid the worst case.
    Margot Schneider.

    Reply
  2. Nancy Weir

    I thank you so sincerely for all that you have done and still doing for the
    polar bear. Now , if we can just return wolves and wild horses back to
    their land?

    Reply
  3. Joan Wilson

    I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT SO MANY CRUEL MEANINGLESS MEN IN ONE ORGANIZATION AS THE CONGRESS COULD BE SO GREEDY AND UNCARING OF WHAT THE AMERICANS WANT, WE WANT OUR WILDLIFE AND WILDLANDS LEFT ALONE AND PROTECTED PERMANENTLY IN THE FUTURE. OUR PRESIDENT OVER 45 YEARS AGO GAVE OUR WILDLIFE PROTECTION AND IT WENT GREAT FOR MANY YEARS TIL 9 OR SO YEARS AGO, THE BUSH GROUP DIDN’T CARE ABOUT WILDLIFE SO THEY LET IT START FALLING APART. WE MUST STOP IT AND LET IT GO BACK TO WHERE IT WAS AND KEEP IT THAT WAY FOR AMERICA’S GREAT GRANDCHILDREN SO THEY CAN ENJOY THEM AS MUCH AS WE HAVE. PLEASE SEE TO IT THAT THE PROTECTION OUR POLAR BEARS AND WOLVES, ETC. HAD FOR SO MANY YEARS RETURNS AND STAYS. IF CONGRESS DOESN’T CARE THAT DOESN’T MEAN AMERICA DOESN’T CARE AND WE MUST SPEAK UP!!!!

    Reply

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