While often depicted as the battle between good and evil in the movies, the polar bears habitat issue moves to court and it’s not so cut and dry. There are multiple factors to be considered between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Alaska, who found themselves at opposite sides of the problem.
Since 2008, polar bears were officially declared an endangered species due to surface of sea ice melted by global warming that severely limited their natural habitat. It’s both their hunting and breeding ground, and is now being taken into consideration to offer them an additional 187,000 square miles of the U.S. Arctic territory in order to avoid the extinction of the entire species.
However, the state of Alaska, petroleum industry groups, organizations and communities who make a living off of the northern coast are protesting to the large portion of the land being taken out of use, claiming that the designation of such a vast area would cost the state millions, lead to delayed projects and multiple other issues.
The conflict between companies and natural preservation is no new controversial problem to rise due to climate change. Nature needs to be preserved, but there are many instances when matters of huge costs and unemployment could negatively affect humans as well. It’s not a legendary fight of heroes versus villains, but a matter of proper understanding and mutual interest.
The Alaskan government and companies state that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have not provided conclusive evidence and are only basing their demands on limited data. The requested designation proposed is 95% of marine space, which the judge deemed to be no issues with, but the rest of 5% implied land space, which has been the catalyst of the lawsuit.
The state representatives have claimed that the natural preservation agency has shown the presence of polar bears mating dens, where females go to reproduce and give birth, on just 0.2% of the entire area demanded and had arbitrarily chosen a much vaster domain without proper proof of their presence.
However, according to the agency, not all dens could be documented and it cannot be expected for polar bears to know precisely where those prime locations are and travel exclusively to them. Furthermore, even within the limited data offered, there has been proof that the animals travel as far as 50 miles inland at times.
An experienced attorney in the issue, Rebecca Noblin, for the Center for Biological Diversity has stated that when encountered with uncertain data, the lawful ruling of the court must favor the protection of endangered species, as it has already been previously concluded that if the amount of gas emissions do not lower, the species would become extinct. The goal in itself is a long way away.
In order to make sure polar bears survive until we can properly gain control against high number of gas emissions, the agency has stated that there is a need for them to have proper space where they can live, reproduce and survive.
Image source: strangesounds.org
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