Thursday, November 05, 2009

Eagles Delisted From Endangered Species & Now Whales

First the Bald Eagle was delisted from the Endangered Species List and now the Humpback whales appear to be thriving world-wide. From fewer than 5,000 in the 1960s, humpbacks now number 60,000 or more. Once hunted to near extinction, humpback whales are increasing world-wide. U.S. officials are considering how to manage the species' status under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal experts are expected to use all of that new data to revamp the way they evaluate humpback whales under the Endangered Species Act. During the coming year, they will be asked to weigh whether humpback whales could be better regulated not as a global species but as local, family groupings that breed and feed together. On that basis, officials could lift restrictions on healthy whale populations in some areas, while still listing others as endangered.

The International Whaling Commission maintains whale population estimates. Although there is international pressure to resume commercial whaling, no one petitioned for the U.S. review. In the U.S., which opposes commercial whaling, many marine biologists like the idea of protecting humpbacks more selectively because conservation resources then could be focused on herds most threatened by extinction. (WSJ, 11/6/09)

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