Environmental group sues over ice seal habitat decision

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- An environmental group is suing the federal government for failing to designate critical habitat for two species of ice seals on the threatened species list.

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the National Marine Fisheries Service on Thursday for not designating critical habitat for ringed and bearded seals.

A spokeswoman, Julie Speegle, said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Designation of critical habitat for threatened species is required by the Endangered Species Act. Federal agencies that authorize activities such as oil drilling within critical habitat must consult with federal wildlife managers to determine effects on a threatened species.

Ringed and bearded seals live in the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska's northwest coast. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed their listings last year because of projected habitat loss.