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Polar Bears Listed As Endangered Species

May 15, 2008

San Francisco, CA - The polar bear is now officially on thin ice. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior placed the bear on the Endangered Species list, as a result of the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice that makes up much of the polar habitat.

Kassie Siegel, Climate Program director for San Francisco's Center for Biological Diversity, believes it's not too late to save the polar bear. However, she says, it will require California and other states to take prompt action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

"The Endangered Species Act listing will require federal agencies to look at the impact of their emissions and take steps to reduce them, as well reducing other threats to protect the polar bear. As a society, we need to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions very rapidly. We need new federal legislation that accomplishes not only the rapid reduction, but places a cap on emissions."

Although the Interior Department's decision provides significant protections for the polar bear population, Siegel explains that it does not include specific action to combat the climate changes causing its habitat to disappear. The White House view is that global warming does not fall within the scope of the Endangered Species Act.

More information about the listing, as well as efforts underway to help the polar bear, can be found on the Center's Web site, at

Lori Abbott/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CA