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Soundings Archive

NMFS Proposes Endangered Species Listing for Cook Inlet Beluga Whales
On April 20, 2007, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed rules listing the Cook Inlet, Alaska population of beluga whales as an Endangered Species under the Endangered Species Act. In the same Federal Register notice, NMFS solicited information on essential physical and biological features of Cook Inlet beluga whale habitat. This information may be used in a subsequent critical habitat designation.

The proposed ESA listing is the latest step in a process that began with a 1999 listing petition filed by NGOs. In 2000, NMFS decided that the Cook Inlet beluga was not threatened or endangered under the ESA. NMFS changed its mind in part because, in 2005, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources determined that this population of beluga whales had a 71% probability of having a negative growth rate.

NMFS believes that predation by indigenous humans and by Orcas contributes to the whales' endangered status.

NMFS requests comments on the proposed listing by June 19, 2007.

  • Click to read Federal Register notice of proposed listing

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