Section Of Alaska Is Proposed Polar Bear Refuge

10.23.09 | FL News Team

Polar bears will be getting special protection in Alaska under a proposal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency wants to designate 200-square miles in Alaska's North Slope region as a critical habitat. That's a special kind of protection under the Endangered Species Act. Over 90-percent of the area is water that is often covered by ice. The area overlaps some of the largest existing oil fields in Alaska, but a federal official says the designation won't hamper development of oil fields. Assistant Interior Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland said oil companies can continue to do business there as long as they are responsible and careful. The companies are already subject to some regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell has pledged to fight the designation. The state has sued to overturn the listing.