Walrus advocates, Alaska officials await US listing decision

In this April 18, 2004 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a walrus cow and her calf sit on the ice in Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Interior Department, has until Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, to decide whether Pacific walrus should be listed to the threatened species list because of threats to its habitat, sea ice, due to climate warming. (Joel Garlich-Miller/USFWS via AP)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal agency that manages Pacific walrus is scheduled to decide this week whether the animals should be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

A court settlement calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a listing decision by the end of September, which is Saturday.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the listing petition in February 2008. Climate science director Shaye Wolf says walruses’ primary habitat, sea ice, has decreased by half in recent decades because of climate change. Climate models predict the loss will continue.

The state of Alaska opposes the listing.

State Division of Wildlife Conservation director Bruce Dale says the walrus population is robust and that projections of future sea ice melt are uncertain.

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