When you think of endangered species, which animals come to mind? You probably think of the Asian elephant, the snow leopard, the giant panda, or the Siberian tiger. The list of at-risk species grows longer every day. Most recently, conservation groups in the United States have made a push to add the Pacific walrus to that list.
To many, walruses aren’t a species that needs much help. People have images in their minds of a thriving population living on the coast, sporting their characteristic whiskers and tusks. However, because of global climate change and efforts to control their populations, these animals could soon start dying in record numbers.
The Pacific walrus relies heavily on sea ice for its survival. They use the ice to escape predators; they depend on the ice for breeding, mating in the winter, and giving birth in the spring. Walruses also use the sea ice as a place to rest between bouts of feeding. Its existence is integral to the survival of the species.
Experts and conservationists have rallied for a preemptive “endangered” status to account for the loss of this vital habitat. Rising global temperatures have impacted the amount of sea ice found in the Arctic. Estimates predict that by 2030 there may not even be any ice in the summer. The repercussions could be catastrophic for countless species, including the walrus.
The United States government declined the proposal to label the walrus an endangered species on the grounds that they don’t appear to be under threat of extinction for the foreseeable future. Officials added that they fully expect the species to adapt to changing conditions.
What are your thoughts on the issue of endangered species? Do you think that the United States government does enough to promote the survival of indigenous animals? What measures do you think they could take to combat rampant ecological changes? Do you think it even matters if the Pacific walrus goes extinct? Share your comments below.