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Largest Critical Habitat Designation in History Would Protect 226 Million Acres for Alaska's Ringed Seals

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— Arctic ringed seals threatened by climate change today received proposed protections for more than 226 million acres of critical habitat in Alaska’s Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Ringed seals were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2012 as a result of a Center for Biological Diversity petition. Today’s critical habitat proposal from the National Marine Fisheries Service would be the largest such designation in history, protecting more than 350,000 square miles, an area more than twice the size of California.

“We’re thrilled that the ringed seals are getting the habitat protections they so desperately need as their sea-ice home melts beneath them,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director for the Center. “Now the Obama administration needs to make these protections count, by reducing the greenhouse gas pollution that’s rapidly making the Arctic uninhabitable for ringed seals and other ice-dependent animals.”

Ringed seals, which are the primary food for polar bears, excavate snow caves on top of sea ice to create protected shelters for nursing pups. As the Arctic warms, the sea ice is breaking up earlier, and rain is falling on snow, causing snow caves to collapse and leading to the deaths of pups.

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Learn more about ringed seals.

Contact: Shaye Wolf

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Media Contacts:
Mike Stark, Communications Director
mstark@biologicaldiversity.org, (520) 623-5252 ext. 315

Andy Parker, Media Specialist – Endangered Species
aparker@biologicaldiversity.org, (503) 310-5569

Patrick Sullivan, Media Specialist – Climate Change, Fracking
psullivan@biologicaldiversity.org, (415) 632-5316

Russ McSpadden, Communications Associate – Media Photos
rmcspadden@biologicaldiversity.org

Banner photo courtesy Flickr/Lalo Pangue; ringed seal courtesy National Marine Mammal Laboratory/NOAA