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Judge rules feds wrongly protecting bearded seals

  JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ A federal judge in Alaska has ruled that a federal agency improperly listed bearded seals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

    Judge Ralph Beistline in Fairbanks says the decision by the National Marine Fisheries Services was ``arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion.''

    The state, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the North Slope Borough sued after the agency added bearded seals and ringed seals in the Arctic Ocean to the threatened list in December 2012. Polar bears also are listed because of a loss of sea ice.

    Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty says the listing ``was based solely on speculative 100-year projections that lacked any credible scientific evidence.'' 

    Fisheries officials didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

    The state didn't challenge the listing for ringed seals.

 

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