US designates critical habitat for polar bears

Critical habitat Image: US Fish and Wildlife Service
US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated in a ruling signed October 26 more than 187,000 square miles of on-shore barrier islands, denning areas and offshore sea-ice in the Arctic as critical habitat for polar bears.
From the FWS news release:
The final designation, contained in a final rule that was submitted on November 23, 2010 to the Federal Register, encompasses three areas or units: barrier island habitat, sea ice habitat and terrestrial denning habitat. Barrier island habitat includes coastal barrier islands and spits along Alaska’s coast, and is used for denning, refuge from human disturbances, access to maternal dens and feeding habitat and travel along the coast. Sea ice habitat is located over the continental shelf, and includes ice over water up to 300 m (984 ft) in depth extending to the outer limits of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, 321 km (200 miles) from shore.
Terrestrial denning habitat includes lands within 32 km (20 miles) of the northern coast of Alaska between the Canadian border and the Kavik River and within 8 km (5 miles) between the Kavik River and Barrow, Alaska. Approximately 96 percent of the area designated as critical habitat is sea ice habitat.
Published Wednesday November 24 2010 by Dag Vongraven