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CA Environmentalists: "Save the Polar Bear!"

January 10, 2008

Joshua Tree, CA - California environmental groups believe the polar bear is getting the cold shoulder from the Bush administration. The government has delayed announcing whether the polar bear should be on the endangered species list, which has prompted the groups to take legal action. Kassie Siegel with the Center for Biological Diversity in Joshua Tree says the bears are being threatened by global warming, and their chances of survival are melting away.

"The Arctic is the earth's early warning system and the polar bear is the canary in the coal mine. If we can act soon enough to save the polar bear, then we can also prevent some of the worst impacts of global warming for ourselves as well."

Siegel says like the polar bear, California is especially vulnerable to climate change and cites how the melting Sierra snowpack increases the chance of wildfires.

"California could lose up to 90 percent of its winter snowpack, which would have devastating impacts on water availability. If we greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions now, we can slow warming."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has never declared a species endangered because of global warming, and the agency says the delay is due to the complexity of the matter. The environmental groups say the timing looks suspicious with oil and gas leases up for sale in the Alaskan polar bear region early next month.

More information about the polar bear lawsuit is available online at www.nrdc.org.

Lori Abbott/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - CA