Bruce Woods (907)786-3695
Valerie Fellows (202)208-3008
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish in the Federal Register an announcement of the availability of nine research papers recently completed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that will be used by the Service in reaching a final decision on whether to protect the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Concurrent with this announcement, the Service will reopen the public comment period on its January 2007 proposal to add the polar bear to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. The comment period will reopen when the announcement is expected to publish in the Federal Register on September 20, 2007, and will be open until October 5, 2007, to give interested parties an opportunity to review and respond to the USGS reports. The USGS studies can be found at: Polar_Bear_Finding@fws.gov. Information on other methods for submitting comments can be found on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Mail or hand-deliver written comments and information to the Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503.
Further information about polar bear management in Alaska and on the proposed Endangered Species Act listing of polar bears worldwide, can be found at: http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/issues.htm.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices, 64 Fishery Resource Offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.