As sea ice melts, some say wal­ruses need bet­ter pro­tec­tion

The Norwalk Hour - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

AN­CHOR­AGE, Alaska — Given a choice be­tween giv­ing birth on land or sea ice, Pa­cific wal­rus moth­ers most of­ten choose ice.

Like­wise, they pre­fer sea ice for molt­ing, mat­ing, nurs­ing and rest­ing be­tween dives for food. Trou­ble is, as the cen­tury pro­gresses, there’s go­ing to be far less ice around.

How well wal­ruses cope with less sea ice is at the heart of a le­gal fight over whether wal­ruses should be listed as a threat­ened species, giv­ing them an added pro­tec­tion against hu­man en­croach­ments.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment in 2008 listed po­lar bears as a threat­ened species be­cause of di­min­ished sea ice brought on by cli­mate warm­ing. That year the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity pe­ti­tioned to do the same for wal­ruses.

How­ever, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice con­cluded in Oc­to­ber 2017 that wal­ruses are adapt­ing and no one has proven that they “need” sea ice.

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