ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will not list the Pacific walrus as a threatened species based on diminished Arctic Ocean sea ice, concluding that the marine mammals have adapted to the loss by foraging from coastlines.
The question of whether Pacific walruses should be put on the endangered list is one that will likely be challenged in court, according to Shaye Wolf, the climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Trump administration announced that it will not list the Pacific walrus as a threatened species based on diminished Arctic Ocean sea ice, saying that the marine mammals have adapted to the loss by foraging from coastlines.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said they cannot determine with certainty that walruses are likely to become endangered "in the foreseeable future," which the agency defines as the year 2060.
Wolf claimed that this decision comes down to a disregard of climate change. From the Associated Press as worked on by Mathew Brown of Billings, Montana, Wolf said this in regards to the administration, "Admitting that the walrus is threatened by climate change acknowledges that climate change poses a real danger to people and wildlife, and they don't want to do that."
Patrick Lemons, the marine mammals management chief for Fish and Wildlife Service, said that the agency found new information that suggests that the Pacific walrus is more adaptable than originally thought and delayed the listing due to other species taking priority. Their ability to rest on shorelines before swimming to foraging areas makes the threat of less sea ice uncertain, he added.
The agency in 2011, using aerial surveys, estimated the walrus population at 129,000. More accurate mark-and-recapture studies put the population at closer to 280,000, Lemons said.