In the face of states seeking to remove "threatened species" protections from the polar bear, a U.S. District Court judge, Emmet Sullivan, has re-constituted the animal as still threatened. Tossing out the case, Sullivan asserted that the protection of the polar bear was both legitimate and well-documented.
According to the news report, Sullivan felt the challenge
of the listing of Ursus maritimus was more a product of contested and conflicting views on policy, which did not legitimize, ultimately, the removal of the bears from threatened status.
Jeffrey Flocken, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, noted that opening up the hunting of polar bears for sport would be devastating. He added that the "decision serves to reinforce the fact that the species is in jeopardy. The short-term special interests of hunting groups must never take precedence over long-term conservation efforts for the protection of polar bears."
Polar bears were considered endangered until 2006, when Dirk Kempthorne, the Interior Secretary at the time, changed their status to threatened. The move potentially allows the development of power plants and petroleum, as endangered protections often limit development of such industries in areas where an animal is considered endangered.
There are approximately 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears worldwide, according to the World Wildlife Fund.