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Fish and Wildlife Service Determines Pacific Walrus Won’t Be Listed Under ESA

Pacific walrus
Pacific walrus. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Days after a court mandated deadline passed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its determination that Pacific walrus will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to a statement released today from the Fish and Wildlife Service, their Principal Deputy Director, Greg Sheehan says the Service’s decision is “based on a rigorous evaluation of the best available science, which indicates the population appears stable, and the species has demonstrated an ability to adapt to changing conditions.”

The FWS says the Pacific walrus population looks to be approaching stability, based on higher reproductive and survival rates than what was seen in the 1970s to ‘80s.

Although decreasing sea ice has impacted walruses’ behavior regarding breeding, resting, and more, according to the Service, it could not confidently predict how the animal would respond to sea ice loss in the future, beyond 2060.

In a press release, the Fish and Wildlife Service says “beyond that time, predicting behavioral responses becomes too speculative to be considered best available science for the purposes of a listing determination.”

According to the Service, the decision to not list walrus under ESA will not affect the animal’s protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This concludes the Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts in responding to a 2008 petition requesting the listing of Pacific walrus under ESA.

Image at top: Pacific walrus. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

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