The US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a decision that the Pacific walrus "warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act", noting that it "is primarily threatened by the loss of sea ice in its arctic habitat due to climate change".
However, the agency said in its press release (Pacific Walrus to be Designated a Candidate for Endangered Species Protection) that "an official rulemaking to propose that protection is currently precluded by the need to address other higher priority species such as the polar bear".
The agency therefore has decided that "the walrus will be added to the agency’s list of candidates for ESA protection and its future status will be reviewed annually".
Margaret Williams, Director of WWF's US Arctic Field Program, applauded the decision as “an important recognition of the profound negative impact that a warming climate is having on the Arctic environment”.
Read more on the decision and what it means for walrus on the WWF US Climate blog.
Read the US Fish and Wildlife Service press release.