Conservation Group Fighting to Protect the Pacific Walrus
Back in February, The Center for Biological Diversity filed a scientific petition to include the Pacific Walrus in the Endangered Species Act, insuring that the animal would receive more protection in the face of the walrus' deteriorating habitat. The deadline to respond to the petition was May 8th. They're a little late, so now the group is suing the Federal Government in order to demand that the Pacific Walrus be included in the Endangered Species Act.
The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on Wednesday for failing to act on a petition seeking protection for walruses under the Endangered Species Act.
Walruses are threatened by global warming that melts Arctic sea ice, according to the group, one of the parties that successfully petitioned to list polar bears as threatened. The group also has filed petitions to protect Arctic seals.
The walrus petition was filed in February. The Fish and Wildlife Service was required by law to decide by May 8 whether the petition had merit, which would trigger a more thorough review and a preliminary decision after 12 months. The agency missed the deadline.
Rebecca Noblin, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the delay would harm walruses.
"Every day that goes by without protecting the walrus, we're emitting more greenhouse gases, accelerating the ice melt," Noblin said.
"In addition to the climate change, the other main threat is oil and gas development that continues to go forward without any consultation regarding walrus," she said.
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Bruce Woods said Wednesday the agency anticipates making a decision on the petition soon but has limited resources. Decisions on endangered species listings are driven by litigation, he said, forcing the agency to rank actions by court order rather than species need.
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Fairbanks, Alaska, United States