Editorial: Listing of little help for polar bear
"Boxed into a corner by the courts and its own scientists, the Bush administration agreed last week to place the polar bear under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The decision was the clearest official acknowledgment that the bear, its hunting grounds diminished by shrinking summer ice, is seriously at risk.

It was a victory for conservationists and for the Interior Department’s scientists whose findings have often been twisted or ignored by the administration.

It is not clear that the decision is much of a victory for the bears. The listing appears to offer only modest new protections. United States law already bars the killing of bears. The listing will also prohibit the importing of hides or other trophies from bears killed in Canada.

It does nothing to address the gravest threats to the bears’ survival: oil and gas drilling and global warming. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said the act — as he interprets it — in no way inhibits oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat like the Chukchi Sea, where the department recently opened up 30 million acres to exploratory drilling."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Not Much Help for the Polar Bear (The New York Times 5/18)

Relevant Documents:
Press Release | Kempthorne's Remarks | Final Rule | Interim Final Rule | MOU with Canada | Fact Sheet | Guidance from USGS | Guidance from FWS

Related Stories:
Interior lists polar bear as protected species (5/15)