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Press Release

State Joins ASRC and Others Seeking Supreme Court Review of Bearded Seal ESA Listing

July 21, 2017

(Anchorage, AK) - The State of Alaska today joined a petition for writ of certiorari seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals order concerning the listing of bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act.

"A listing of a bountiful and healthy species solely upon uncertain speculation 100-years into the future is not scientific and would greatly impact our entire state," said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. "I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will take up this case and require that these decisions are supported by reasonable scientific evidence, not speculation."

The U.S. District Court initially found the Beringia distinct population segment of bearded seals should not have been listed as threatened because the seal population is presently healthy and does not face an immediate threat. The district court determined that the National Marine Fisheries Service should not have listed the species based solely upon speculation that the seals would be impacted by sea-ice habitat loss due to climate change by the end of the 21st century. NMFS needed to better explain and provide support for any potential impacts to the species, a species now robust in number and health. In October 2016, the Ninth Circuit disagreed with the district court, reinstating the listing. The Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Northwest Arctic Borough, North Slope Borough, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, NANA Regional Corporation, Inc., and the State have joined together to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Brad Meyen at brad.meyen@alaska.gov or (907) 269-5100.

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