Federal officials say they need more time to decide whether to add polar bears to the threatened species list.
The deadline was January 1st, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it hopes to offer a recommendation to the Interior Secretary in time for him to make a decision within the next month. Dirk Kempthorne had suggested listing polar bears in 2007, giving him a one-year deadline.
Environmental groups argue polar bears need protection because global warming is melting their habitat. If the animals make the list, it could impose limits on man-made developments in the polar bears' territory.
Last September, the U.S. Geological Survey concluded two-thirds of the world's polar bears, including the entire population in Alaska, will be killed off by 2050 because of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic.