Trump administration denies endangered species protection to Pacific walruses

Trump administration denies endangered species protection to Pacific walruses
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has moved to remove Endangered Species Act protections from Pacific Walruses, citing their ability to adapt and persist during changes in their climate and environment. 

"The Pacific walrus population has persisted through past climate change events however, the ability of the Pacific walrus population to adapt to or cope with increasing stress in the future is uncertain," the USFWS wrote.

The agency goes on to say there is not enough evidence to suggest that the animals need to be listed as "threatened" or "endangered." 

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However, environmentalists have spoken out against the move, equating it to a death sentence for the animals. 

"Walruses face extinction from climate change, and denying them critical protections will push them closer to the edge," Shaye Wolf, the climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

Pacific walruses have traditionally used sea ice for various needs, including giving birth, nursing and resting. As the earth gets warmer, however, the sea ice has melted and the walruses have been forced to move onto land. 

USFWS says this is a sign of adaptation on the part of the walruses, though the walruses are more likely to be targeted by predators on land and have less access to food. 

Patrick Lemons, the chief of the Marine Mammals Management Office in Anchorage, Alaska, told The Huffington Post that walruses have shown their ability to make "long off-shore" trips for food, and cited various government efforts to reduce human disturbances to the walruses on land.