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Conservation group wants Pacific walruses protected

May 30, 2008 |  2:59 pm

Pacific_walrus_chill_in_alaska_with

A conservation group announced this week it will sue to force federal action on a petition to list the Pacific walrus as a threatened species because of global warming and offshore petroleum development, Dan Joling of the Associated Press reports:

The deadline was May 8 for an initial 90-day review of the petition by the U.S. Department of the Interior, according to Center for Biological Diversity attorney Brendan Cummings. The group filed the petition back in February.

Shaye Wolf, a biologist and lead author of the petition, said Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than the best predictions of climate models.

"As the sea ice recedes, so does the future of the Pacific walrus," she said.

The Center for Biological Diversity was one of three conservation groups that successfully petitioned to have polar bears listed as threatened because of sea ice loss caused by global warming, a decision announced this month by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. That listing also followed court action to force deadline decisions, though.

Listing a species as "threatened" means it is likely to become endangered, government officials said. "Endangered" is more dire and means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or much of its range.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Associated Press

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