"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated more than 187,000 square miles of on-shore barrier islands, denning areas and offshore sea-ice as critical habitat for the threatened polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.
The designation identifies geographic areas containing features considered essential for the conservation of the bear that require special management or protection.
'This critical habitat designation enables us to work with federal partners to ensure their actions within its boundaries do not harm polar bear populations,' said Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks. 'Nevertheless, the greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of its sea ice habitat caused by human-induced climate change. We will continue to work toward comprehensive strategies for the long-term survival of this iconic species.' "