Supreme Court declines bearded seal appeal
In a decision published on Jan. 22, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a petition to review the result of the appeal against the National Marine Fisheries Service’s listing of the Beringia population of bearded seals as threatened under the terms of the Endangered Species Act. The court decision, in effect, brings the appeal to an end, with the listing still in place.
The request to the Supreme Court followed a decision in October 2016 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to uphold the listing of the seals, a decision that overturned an earlier order by the federal District Court in Alaska that had rejected the listing on the grounds that the listing decision had been arbitrary and capricious.
The listing of the bearded seals has come as one of a number of wildlife listings related to the projected loss of Arctic sea ice as a consequence of global warming. Bearded seals live around the sea ice, which they use for resting, feeding and rearing their young. Worried about the potential impact of the listing on economic activity in the Arctic and questioning the listing of an apparently healthy species based on long-term climate projections, several entities, including the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute, the state of Alaska, the North Slope Borough and other local government and Alaska Native organizations appealed the listing decision in District Court.
- ALAN BAILEY