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Sea Lion Species Removed from Endangered Species List

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Sea Lion Species Removed from Endangered Species List

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Description: The eastern Steller sea lion, which roams the West Coast between Alaska and
California, has been taken off the U.S. Endangered Species List after a
major population comeback over the last several years.The National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Fisheries Service, which manages
the population, announced the decision this week after proposing to delist
the sea lion species last year.We're delighted to see the recovery of the
eastern population of Steller sea lions Jim Balsiger, administrator of NOAA
Fisheries' Alaska region, said in a statement.We'll be working with the
states and other partners to monitor this population to ensure its
continued health. [Images: Sea Lion Pups Make a Splash]
Steller sea lions, whose scientific name is Eumetopias jubatus, are the
largest of the eared seals. Historically, the animals had been hunted for
their meat and hides and killed by fisherman who blamed the animals for
stealing their catch. The creatures were first added to the Endangered
Species List in 1990 in light of evidence that the species had experienced
a steep decline over the previous decades.
According to biologists' estimates, the number of eastern Steller sea lions
had dwindled to around 18, 000 by the late 1970s. But by 2010, the
population had bounced back to more than 70, 000 individuals, NOAA officials
said. That translates to a growth rate of 4.18 percent each year, exceeding
the federal agency's recovery criteria.The Endangered Species Act, signed
by former President Richard Nixon, was one of the most powerful laws to
come of the environmental movement of the 1970s. When an animal gains
protection under this law, biologists and federal wildlife officials must
outline a plan to help the species recover and determine how to measure the
success of their conservation efforts. The recovery plan for the eastern
Steller sea lion, revised in 2008, set a goal of a 3 percent annual
population growth rate.Federal officials say they will continue to work
with state marine wildlife managers in Alaska, California, Oregon and
Washington to monitor potential threats to the sea lions, including boat
strikes, energy exploration, habitat destruction and fishing.Under the new
rule, the western group of the species, which is genetically distinct and
ranges from Alaska to the Pacific coast of Russia, will hold on to its
endangered classification. NOAA Fisheries officials say they are
investigating reasons why the eastern population has recovered while the
western Steller sea lions have not.


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