US Must Clarify Bears' Status: Judge

Green groups hail decision giving feds deadline under endangered species act
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2008 4:03 PM CDT
Polar bear cub "Wilbaer" right, plays with his mother "Corinna" in the open air enclosure of the polar bears at the zoo in Stuttgart, southern Germany.   (AP Photo/Daniel Maurer)
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(Newser) – A federal judge today ordered the US government to decide by May 15 if polar bears are endangered, the Los Angeles Times reports, a victory for environmental groups. The judge ruled the feds broke the law by missing the original Jan. 9 deadline; the government offered "no specific facts that would justify the existing delay, much less further delay," the judge said.

The ruling is good news for the three environmental groups that have been petitioning for polar bears to be listed as endangered because of vanishing sea ice, where the bears hunt for food. One advocate calls the decision "the first step toward saving the polar bear and the entire Arctic ecosystem from global warming." (Read more polar bear stories.)