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Will Walruses Follow Polar Bears?

The loss of arctic sea ice is bad for walrus populations, which means the walrus may soon be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Though drops in walrus population haven't been documented, scientists and Natives are afraid the ripple effects of climate change could thin walrus numbers.

Walrus need to rest on sea ice no more than 400 feet above the ocean floor so they can dive down to eat shellfish and plants. But sea ice is retreating so far north that the waters are too deep for walrus to feed. This forces them to squeeze onto land, and last summer about 4,000 young walruses were trampled to death by males in the crowded conditions.

"On land, they are really vulnerable to predators and to being trampled by big males; when a human or polar bear shows up, they panic and stampede," said Shaye Wolf, a staff biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity, which is petitioning for an Endangered Species Act listing for the walrus.

The Center for Biological diversity is the same group that successfully petitioned the Fish & Wildlife Service to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the ESA.

mad the swine (mail):
Shoot, shovel, and shut up. No walrus, no problem.

... seriously, the Endangered Species Act has been used as a weapon against the American economy for decades (spotted owl, anyone?) but only on local levels. The argument that species are threatened by "global warming", and so the government has the authority under the ESA to mandate nationwide actions to reduce or reverse this "warming", is an enormous and terrifying extension of leftist envirocommunism.
8.29.2008 9:51am
Norman Bates (mail):
Polar bear populations have been increasing. The scientific name for the polar bear (Ursus Maritimus) derives from the fact that the earliest European contact with these bears occurred far at sea and it was assumed that they spent most of their lives there. They are well-adapted to swimming extremely long distances in the open-ocean. Even if Arctic pack ice were to disappear in the summer (and the evidence to decide whether this is likely to be a persistent phenomenon is non-existent) most polar bears would probably adapt quite well to the phenomenon. They are not, after all, utterly unintelligent automata. There is even less evidence that walruses are in any danger from putative global warming.
8.29.2008 10:05am
The Unbeliever:
Walrus need to rest on sea ice no more than 400 feet above the ocean floor so they can dive down to eat shellfish and plants... last summer about 4,000 young walruses were trampled to death by males in the crowded conditions
So a species has a very specific condition for survival, and as soon as something changes they start dying off (or cannibalizing their young). Isn't this the very definition of natural selection? What's wrong with evolution in action?
8.29.2008 10:44am
Mohamed (www):
The issue isn't whether polar bears or other animals can swim, it is the increasing distances they must swim to find food. Their natural stamina is not condusive to long swims, just like the walruses breath control is not adept to deeper dives, here is a quote from the Time Online:

Although polar bears are strong swimmers, they are adapted for swimming close to the shore. Their sea journeys leave them them vulnerable to exhaustion, hypothermia or being swamped by waves.
8.29.2008 10:59am
Busby SEO Challenge (mail) (www):
Interesting Post... I really love it.. thanks
Busby SEO Challenge
8.29.2008 11:03am
The Oracle of Syracuse:
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
8.29.2008 11:03am
MartyA:
"...about 4,000 young walruses were trampled to death by males in the crowded conditions."
Saint Hussein, if elected, will surely fix this by requiring all male walruses to take no trampling sensitivity training.
8.29.2008 11:13am
Charles Darwin:
The issue isn't whether polar bears or other animals can swim, it is the increasing distances they must swim to find food. Their natural stamina is not condusive to long swims, just like the walruses breath control is not adept to deeper dives

*Ahem*

Adapt or die.
8.29.2008 11:39am
MarkField (mail):
I'm hoping Sarcastro has taken a bunch of new nom de plumes. If not, then life has once again surpassed art.
8.29.2008 11:45am
mad the swine (mail):
"Adapt or die."

Isn't this the complaint we have about leftists, that they draw their morality from Darwin and so end up embracing fascist ideologies? I mean, if we humans care for our own sick and weak and those with difficulty surviving, why not do it for species we want to preserve? It's not as if we conservatives say "Adapt or die!" to single mothers whose menfolk are dead or fled or imprisoned, or to old folks who've seen inflation and stock market fluctuations annihilate their retirement savings, or workers left unemployed by outsourcing...

... oh, wait, I guess we conservatives are Darwinists after all :)
8.29.2008 12:19pm
Charles Darwin:
Isn't this the complaint we have about leftists, that they draw their morality from Darwin and so end up embracing fascist ideologies?
What's facist about evolution? I would think anyone who believes it and abhors introducing Intelligent Design into school lessons, is equally eager to see the walrus undergo the natural process (organic even!) that has been going on for eons. And if Mother Earth is no longer hospitable to one of her children, well, Gaia knows best.

No? We're supposed to care about certain species and subvert the evolutionary process? Well, damn.
8.29.2008 12:47pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I would suppose that, if anyone cared to contest this allegation in a legal brief, it would be enough to point out that walruses somehow managed to survive much warmer global climates in the past.
8.29.2008 2:51pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
It would be a strange action to declare the walrus endangered, and then cite evidence that walruses are dying from overcrowding.
8.29.2008 2:58pm
Alex S. (mail):
Polar bears have been around for many tens of thousands of years and walrus for hundreds of thousands. Why is it that now, all of a sudden, they are deemed incapable of adapting to rapid climate change (when there have been many glacial-interglacial oscillations over this time)? To be sure, climate change will affect their populations, but the ESA is supposed to protect species in imminent danger of extinction.
8.29.2008 3:18pm
MarkField (mail):

It would be a strange action to declare the walrus endangered, and then cite evidence that walruses are dying from overcrowding.


Uh, because they've had to (over)crowd into the few remaining habitable areas?

That's actually a pretty common fate for species facing habitat destruction.
8.29.2008 5:36pm
Harmon Dow (mail):
I didn't believe it about the polar bears, &I don't believe it about the walruses. I'm to the point where I don't believe anything any environmental advocacy group says. I guess I've come to the conclusion that they will say anything to advance their objectives, and their objectives are, well, lacking in objectivity.
8.29.2008 6:37pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Harmon, do your "beliefs" that enviros are "lacking in objectivity" also cause you to ignore the fact that it has been the Bush administration that has been finding that the data essentially compels them to make an ESA listing?
9.1.2008 1:10am