Polar bears gain listing as threatened
14 May 2008
Polar bears will be listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA), the secretary of the interior reluctantly announced today. But the listing will offer almost no new protections for the bears, which are threatened primarily by melting sea ice.
"I wish the decision could be otherwise," Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said, calling the act "an inflexible law" that did not allow him to consider potential economic harm that could result from the listing. Instead, the law requires the decision to be based solely on the best available science -- in this case, primarily a series of nine reports issued by the US Geological Survey (USGS) last September.