Deadline for review of walrus

May 19, 2009 5:49:00 AM PDT
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to make an initial determination within four months on whether the Pacific walrus merits additional protections under the Endangered Species Act.

A federal judge Monday approved a settlement between the agency and the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued in December to force a decision.

The group filed a petition in February 2008 to list walrus because of the loss of their sea ice habitat due to global warming, and used the same justification to successfully petition for protection of polar bears.

Listing would require federal agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that any action they authorize will not jeopardize walruses or adversely modify their critical habitat.

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