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Soundings Archive

FWS Requests comment On Draft Revised Stock Reports for Pacific Walrus and Two Stocks of Polar Bears
On June 18, 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested public comment on draft revised marine mammal stock assessment reports for the Pacific walrus stock and for each of the two polar bear stocks in Alaska: the southern Beaufort Sea polar bear stock and the Chukchi/Bering seas polar bear stock. FWS publishes these Stock assessments under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The FWS recently listed the polar bears as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. On May 18, 2009, a U.S. federal court judge approved a settlement between FWS and the Center for Biological Diversity requiring FWS to consider whether the Pacific walrus may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. Under the settlement, FWS must make an initial finding on the Center's petition requesting protection of the walrus by September 10, 2009, with a subsequent decision as to whether the species should be protected the following year.

The polar bear and walrus stock status are politically charged issues because some NGOs claim that the animals are threatened by human-caused climate change. The FWS listed the polar bears as threatened under the ESA because the FWS concluded that climate change is melting the sea ice on which the bears live.

FWS' draft revised stock assessments for the walrus and polar bears include the following population estimates:

    Pacific Walrus - 15,164
    Southern Beaufort Sea Polar Bear - 1,397
    Chukchi/Bering Seas Polar Bear - 2,000
Any public comment on these stock assessments must be received by FWS no later than September 16, 2009.
  • Click here to read draft revised Stock Assessments

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