Protect Polar Bear Habitat in the Arctic Refuge

Rising temperatures are robbing polar bears of vital habitat and melting the sea ice they use for hunting and raising their cubs. In response, the Interior Department has announced a proposal to designate more than 200,000 square miles of critical habitat for these struggling bears – including the vital coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is America's most important onshore polar bear nursery. Protecting this important denning habitat should help safeguard polar bear homes from destructive oil and gas exploration and drilling.

Please urge the Interior Department to adopt this proposal to protect onshore denning habitats and help save America's struggling polar bears.

Note: Please take action today – the deadline to submit comments is Monday, December 28th.

Re: FWS-R7-ES-2009-0042

Dear [Decision Maker],

As a supporter of the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and someone who cares about America's vanishing polar bears, I am writing to comment on the Interior Department's proposal to designate more than 200,000 square miles of critical habitat for these struggling bears [FWS-R7-ES-2009-0042].

[Your personalized comments will be added to this letter.]

Our polar bears are running out of time. Scientists say that Alaska's polar bears could be extinct in the wild by the end of the century, but the impacts of global warming on these marine mammals can already be seen.

Rising temperatures are robbing polar bears of vital habitat and melting the sea ice they use for hunting and raising their cubs. These strong swimmers are even drowning in their search for adequate sea ice or starving to death. It is so bad that some are even resorting to cannibalism to survive.

As vital sea ice continues to disappear, onshore habitat like the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- the nation's most important onshore polar bear nursery -- will be even more crucial to the survival of America's polar bears.

The inclusion of this important denning habitat for polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should help safeguard this important habitat from destructive oil and gas exploration and drilling.

Unfortunately, under the current proposal, only part of the coastal plain is included. Because polar bears rely on the entire coastal plain, the designation should be extended to cover all 1.5 million acres.

In addition, the Obama administration should support wilderness protection for this special area, to ensure it will have the strongest protection possible for generations to come.

America's arctic is crucial for the survival of the U.S. population of polar bears. These magnificent animals -- along with walrus and other wildlife -- depend on stable sea ice in their arctic habitat that provides them with safe places to hunt and raise their young.

Thank you for accepting my comments on this important issue.
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