ANCHORAGE — The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Thursday it will consider listing a population of harbor seals that live in a freshwater Alaska lake as a threatened or endangered species, a decision that could affect the massive Pebble Mine development project.
The agency said it has accepted a petition filed in November by the Center for Biological Diversity, kicking off a status review of the seals that live in Iliamna Lake 200 miles southwest of Anchorage.
The animals are the only known U.S. freshwater population of harbor seals, but a listing carries the added importance of possible effects on the Pebble Mine. The proposed open-pit copper and gold mine would require a 140-mile road to Cook Inlet. About 50 to 60 miles would pass along the lake shore, where the seals hunt for salmon.
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