Attorneys argue for listing bearded seals as threatened

ANCHORAGE — A federal government attorney says Alaska’s bearded seals deserve to be listed as a threatened species because of climate warming’s effect on their sea ice habitat.

Robert Stockman of the National Marine Fisheries Service on Thursday in Anchorage urged the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court ruling that said bearded seals do not merit the listing.

Bearded seals are the largest of the Arctic seals. They use sea ice to give birth, molt and dive for food.

The National Marine Fisheries Service listed bearded seals as threatened in 2012.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline in 2014 ruled the listing was improper.

He said the agency had not demonstrated that bearded seals faced a serious threat of extinction before the end of the century.

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