Larry Bell (907)786-3431
Valerie Fellows (202)208-3008
The US Geological Survey (USGS) announced the results of their polar bear research, which included information on the population of polar bears in the Northern and Southern Beaufort Sea and the Southern Hudson Bay; the loss of sea ice in the Arctic region; the reduction in available habitat for polar bears; polar bear population trends in response to the decrease in available habitat; and the likelihood of polar bear extirpation due to the loss of sea ice.
The Fish and Wildlife Service received this information from USGS in the last day, but it would be premature to comment on the substance of the new data until we have had enough time to analyze it and place it in the context of other information received from the public and the scientific community.
When the Fish and Wildlife Service first published its proposal to add the polar bear to the federal list of threatened and endangered species in January 2007, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne directed USGS to analyze existing information and generate new scientific data, models, and interpretations on polar bears and their sea ice habitats.
The Service is committed to using all relevant and accurate scientific data available in order to arrive at an informed and scientifically supported decision. To ensure the public has an opportunity to review and react to this new information, we will open an additional public comment period as soon as possible. With a final decision on the listing proposal expected in early 2008, the additional comment period will necessarily be short.