Alaska Science Center
Decisions Informed by the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative
Pacific Walrus Endangered Species Listing Act Decision by the USFWS
In 2011, an Endangered Species Act finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that listing the Pacific walrus as threatened or endangered was warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions, placing the subspecies on the candidate list. Shortly thereafter, the USFWS agreed to a court settlement to decide whether to propose a listing rule or remove the Pacific walrus from the candidate list by September 2017. Ultimately, the USFWS decided that the Pacific walrus does not warrant listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative, the USGS undertook a suite of studies after the USFWS 2011 initial finding to refine forecasts of future status of the Pacific walrus population. These studies included tracking studies to understand walrus movements and activity budgets under differing ice conditions; development of population models and collection of current data on age structure to inform an assessment of trend; and development of an energetic model to link changes in sea ice with changes in activity and walrus body mass.