• 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

  • News

    Alaskans march against domestic violence and sexual assault

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 23, 19:54

    Communities across Alaska are taking steps forward, marching in solidarity against what they call an epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault. On Thursday, the Zonta Club of Anchorage organized a march from the Delaney Park Strip to Town Square Park. Roughly 100 people attended. Demonstrations such as this are at the center of the state’s […]

  • Politics

    Alaska Senate passes bill to allow Uber, Lyft in Alaska

    by Liz Raines on Mar 23, 19:24

    The Alaska Senate passed a bill Thursday that gives ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft the green light in Alaska. The measure passed 14 to 5, but not without lengthy debate. Lawmakers spent more than four hours going over the Senate Bill 14. Members of the Democratic minority raised concerns about a provision that allows […]

  • News

    Military props up Alaska’s economy in tough financial times

    by Liz Raines on Mar 23, 19:07

    Alaska’s military leaders are worried the state could become a target for North Korea, and that has armed forces ramping up. Top military officials in Alaska gave state lawmakers an update on the state of the military Thursday, one that shows the new efforts go beyond public safety to helping protect the state’s economy. Alaska’s purse […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: To vote or not to vote

    by John Tracy on Mar 23, 18:31

    So, here’s a question for you. Do you know who’s running for Anchorage Assembly in your area? Chances are you don’t. Don’t feel bad about that. I have to confess that up until I started writing this commentary, I didn’t know the candidates in my area either, and the election is just 12 days away. […]

  • Sports

    Results: ASAA high school basketball quarterfinals

    by Dave Goldman on Mar 23, 17:05

    Girls 3A Quarterfinals Sitka 78 – Valdez 22 Four players scored in the double figures to lead the Sitka Wolves to an easy win over Valdez. Zosha Krupa scored 22 points in 20 minutes. Alexandra Kirby chipped in a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. Anchorage Christian 54 – Galena 37 After a slow […]

  • Politics

    White House tells House Republicans ,’Let’s vote’ on health care bill

    by Associated Press on Mar 23, 16:44

    The Latest on the upcoming health care vote in the House (all times local): 7:50 p.m. President Donald Trump wants the House to vote on the health care bill, and Republicans say a vote will occur Friday. White House officials had a simple message to a divided House Republican caucus on the bill: “Let’s vote.” […]

  • Results mostly positive with ASD’s fitness trackers

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 23, 12:33

    In the fall of 2015 the Anchorage School District handed out a device called “Sqord” to students in 36 schools. The device is similar to a Fitbit watch and connects a social online world with activity tracking. Kids accumulated points based on how active they were and can compare with friends and classmates. The initiative […]

  • See the Easter Bunny and more on the railroad’s Easter Train

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 23, 12:31

    Families looking to get out of Anchorage and celebrate spring and Easter can hop on board the Alaska Railroad’s Easter Train on April 8. The train will depart from Anchorage twice, once in the morning and in the afternoon. The total ride is expected to last two and a half hours. It will head down the […]