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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Continues Status Review of Pacific Walrus and Considers New Information

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that it is continuing
the status review of the Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), in
response to a petition to list the species under the Endangered Species
Act, in order to consider two recently completed studies by the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS) that provide important new information.

The first study examined recent and projected changes in sea ice within the
range of the Pacific walrus. The findings of this study are presented in an
USGS Open-file Report “Arctic Sea Ice Decline: Projected Changes in Timing
and Extent of Sea Ice in the Bering and Chukchi Seas,” by D.C. Douglas.

The second study constructed a model to integrate information about the
most important factors influencing the future status of the Pacific walrus
and then projected the status of the walrus at 4 intervals in the 21st
century. The findings of this study are presented in an administrative
report provided to the Service by USGS. The report, by C.V. Jay, B.G.
Marcot, and D.C. Douglas, is entitled “Projected status of the Pacific
walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in the 21st century.”

Both reports are available at the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
http://www.regulations.gov. Search for docket FWS-R7-ES-2009-0051, or by
contacting the Service.

Because these two reports represent new information regarding both the
Pacific walrus and the habitat upon which it depends, we are interested in
any information the public may provide on these reports which we should
similarly consider in our petition finding.

Pacific walruses in the U.S. are currently managed under and protected by
the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. On February 8, 2008, the Center
for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service to list the Pacific walrus as threatened or endangered
under the ESA and to designate critical habitat. The petition states that
global warming will impact the Pacific walrus by degrading and eliminating
critical sea-ice habitat, decreasing prey availability, altering
interactions with predators and disease, and increasing human disturbance
throughout the range. It claims that, without sea ice, the Pacific walrus
will be forced into a shore-based existence for which it is not adapted.

In order to consider the new information provided by the two USGS reports,
the Service is continuing its status review of the species and will submit
to the Federal Register its 12 month finding on whether the listing of the
Pacific walrus as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA is (a)
not warranted; (b) warranted; or (c) warranted but precluded by January 31,
2011. The Service is soliciting additional information or data in light of
these two reports. We request you submit any additional information to the
Service by September 24, 2010. You may submit information by one of the
following methods:

1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for
docket FWS-R7-ES-2009-0051 and then follow the instruction; or
2. U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn:
FWS-R7-ES-2009-0051; Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service, 4401 N, Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA
22203.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our
home page at http://www.fws.gov

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to
conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats
for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and
trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific
excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated
professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on
our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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