Fish & Wildlife Service settles suit to protect Pacific walrus
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to consider an environmental group's petition to protect the Pacific walrus in Alaska's Arctic under the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the agency in December in federal court in Anchorage for failing to act on its petition. Under a proposed settlement filed in court today, the federal agency will decide by Sept. 10 whether the group's petition offers "substantial scientific or commercial information'' to justify a yearlong review of the animal's status.
The center argues the Pacific walrus is threatened by climate change and should be added to the list of threatened or endangered species. The center wants stricter regulation of oil and gas development, shipping and greenhouse gas emissions that affect the Arctic. The center was among several environmental groups that successfully petitioned and sued to add polar bears to the threatened-species list last May. As with polar bears, melting Arctic sea ice is making it harder for walruses to survive, according to the group.
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