With all the Polar Bear talk going around, I thought I'd feature some quick info on 2 laws protecting species. The first is the general Endangered Species Act, the second is the more specific Marine Mammel Protection Act
1) Endangered Species Act:
The focal point of the Endangered Species Act is the list of endangered and threatened species. Once a species is added to the list, it enjoys legal protection designed to help it recover. The laws that apply to threatened species can vary depending upon the conservation needs of the species. Threatened species may often have the same level of protection as endangered species.
Once a species has been listed, critical habitat is designated to assure the survival or recovery of the species. The critical habitat may consist of the area inhabited by the listed species, a portion of the area, or even additional areas outside the inhabited area- what ever area is determined "critical" for the species' survival. After listing a species and defining its critical habitat, the appropriate federal agency prepares a recovery plan that is designed to restore the species to a point where it can be removed from the list.
According to the Act, the decision to list a species is to be based solely on sound biological information such as the current population size and how close the species appears to be to extinction. Economic factors are only to be considered after the species has been listed- in establishing the location and boundaries for the critical habitat and in the development of the species' recovery plans.
2) Marine Mammal Protection Act:
Marine mammals protected under this Act include: dolphins, whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, polar bears, manatees, dugongs and walruses.
Similar to the Endangered Species Act, the responsibility for administering the Marine Mammal Protection Act is shared by two federal agencies. The National Marine Fisheries Service of the Commerce Department has authority with regard to all members of the order Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and all members of the order Pinnipedia (seals) except walruses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior administers the Act with respect to all other species of marine mammals (walruses, sea otters, polar bears, manatees and dugongs).
The purpose of the Marine Mammal Commission is to serve as an impartial and non-political source of expert scientific advice relating to marine mammals. Both the National Marine Fisheries Service and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are required to consult with the Marine Mammal Commission in administering their duties under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The major role of the Marine Mammal Commission is to conduct a continual review and study of all populations of marine mammals and of all activities relating to marine mammals that involve the United States.
INFO FOUND AT http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/appen2.html
More great information on the Polar Bear protection can be found here... http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/species/polarbear/index.html