• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 32s

State, Alaska Native corporations petition US Supreme Court to review polar bear habitat designation

By KTVA CBS 11 News 7:32 PM November 6, 2016
ANCHORAGE –

The state of Alaska and a number of Alaska Native corporations filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court Friday to review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. The February decision upheld the polar bear habitat designation for 187,000 square miles of Alaska land.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its plan in 2010 to set aside the area — which stretches across the Arctic Slope, Northwest Arctic, Bering Straits and Calista regions — as critical habitat for polar bears. The section of land under the designation is larger than the state of California, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) pointed out.

The designation makes it more difficult for projects to get federal permits, which petitioners said could hurt Alaska development and business, according to ASRC, one of the petition’s signers.

Along with ASRC and Alaska, supporters of the petition include the North Slope Borough, the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, Kuukpik Corporation, Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation, Olgoonik Corporation, Inc., Tikigaq Corporation, the Bering Straits Native Corporation, NANA Regional Corporation and Calista Corporation.

“We will not stand by and allow for our input and legitimate concerns to be ignored,” Rex Rock Sr., ASRC president and CEO, said in a statement. “For more than five years we have tirelessly fought this critical habitat designation, which threatens the economic viability of our communities and quality of life for our people. We are hopeful the Supreme Court will consider our argument and recognize the detrimental effects of the appellate court’s extremely permissive decision.”

Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation director Bruce Dale voiced his agreement with Rock’s assessment, saying in a statement that while the designation makes it appear that something is being done for polar bears in the Arctic, “designations forsake meaningful, focused protections of truly important areas.”

“The designation of vast areas creates unneeded regulatory burdens without conservation benefit in areas rarely used by polar bears,” Dale said.

Polar bears are considered threatened by receding sea ice, leaving them without access to both land and water for their hunting needs.

“The designation does nothing to change the disappearing sea ice, which is the primary threat to the polar bear population, yet it puts the growth of our communities at risk,” said North Slope Borough Mayor, Harry K. Brower Jr., who stated his greatest concern was the burden the designation would put on Arctic communities seeking to develop the area.

The USFWS’ designation came before the agency’s decision not to join an international trade ban on polar bear products.

“We are putting our resources into working in collaboration with other polar bear range states to address climate change and mitigate its impacts on the polar bear as the overwhelming threat to the long-term future of the species,” the agency said in its statement on that decision in May.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

Latest Stories

  • Anchorage man finds peace through singing opera

    by KTVA 11 News on Apr 26, 21:11

    Hubert Joseph is a classical singer who has been singing for six months. He wasn’t interested in classical music until he listened to symphonic metal. “It’s where you get a trained opera singer with metal guitar instrumentals,” Joseph said. When he worked a the Rustic Goat, a co-worker enjoyed his singing so much she bought […]

  • Politics

    Governor, education advocates ramp up pressure on Senate over cuts, broad-based tax

    by Liz Raines on Apr 26, 19:34

    Governor Bill Walker and some citizen-led groups are turning up the heat in Juneau on the Senate’s calls for big budget cuts, on day 100 of the 90-day session. Walker pointed to a new report by the state Office of Management and Budget Wednesday to show Alaska’s budget may be bigger than most other states, […]

  • News

    Anchorage homeowners to see property tax increase

    by Bonney Bowman on Apr 26, 19:26

    Anchorage homeowners will have to budget a little more to pay their property taxes. The municipal assembly voted 9 to 2 to increase the mill levy at Tuesday night’s meeting. The mill levy is used to calculate the amount a person owes in taxes. Amy Demboski and Fred Dyson were the two assembly members who […]

  • News

    Bear-resistant trash cans now available in Anchorage

    by Lauren Maxwell on Apr 26, 18:27

    The Government Hill neighborhood that’s had a long history with problem bears is finally getting something residents say they’ve wanted: bear-resistant trash cans. The trash cans weren’t available two summers ago when a black bear with three cubs made regular visits to the neighborhood, attracting huge crowds in the process. The bears were eventually put […]

  • Lifestyle

    Musk ox calf birth caught on camera

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 26, 18:09

    Musk ox momma, Avalanche, welcomed a calf Wednesday afternoon at The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. Around 3:45, workers at the Farm captured the new calf coming into the world. The staff gives the new calf and its mom a few hours to bond before they make contact. So, it’s not yet clear if the […]

  • Couple married 69 years die minutes apart, holding hands

    by Associated Press on Apr 26, 16:45

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) – The children of a suburban Chicago couple married for 69 years say their parents died just 40 minutes apart while holding hands at a hospital. Teresa Vatkin died Saturday at 12:10 a.m. at Highland Park Hospital at age 89. Her husband, 91-year-old Isaac Vatkin, died around 12:50 a.m. Relatives say […]

  • Lifestyle

    Neanderthals in California? Maybe so, provocative study says

    by CBS News/Associated Press on Apr 26, 16:05

    NEW YORK – A startling new report asserts that the first known Americans arrived much, much earlier than scientists thought – more than 100,000 years ago. And maybe they were Neanderthals. If true, the finding would far surpass the widely accepted date of about 15,000 years ago. Researchers say a site in Southern California shows […]

  • News

    Alaska Air beats 1Q profit forecasts

    by Associated Press on Apr 26, 15:33

    SEATTLE (AP) – Alaska Air Group Inc. (ALK) on Wednesday reported first-quarter profit of $99 million. On a per-share basis, the Seattle-based company said it had net income of 79 cents. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.05 per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts […]