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Polar Bears: Listing Under the Endangered Species Act

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Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS22582

Topic: Environment (Animals)

Abstract:

Polar bears depend on an Arctic sea ice habitat, which some believe is threatened by climate warming causing an earlier thaw and later freeze of coastal sea ice. The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing polar bears as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, acknowledging the increasing threats to their existence. Although this listing decision must be solely based on the best available scientific and commercial information, some are concerned that an ESA listing might have extensive economic impacts, since federal agencies are required under the ESA to ensure that anything they authorize or fund that might affect polar bears would not jeopardize the survival of these bears or their sea ice habitat.