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Climate change 'poses threat to caribou'

By John Dean - 11 Apr 2011 11:35:1 GMT
Climate change 'poses threat to caribou'

Melting sea ice, brought about by climate change, could be forcing two species of caribou nearer to extinction, according to wildlife campaigners.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has responded to the claims about the Peary caribou and the Barren-ground Caribou by launching a review of their status.

Officials have acted after receiving a petition to list them as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The two species inhabit islands in the far northern Arctic regions of Canada and, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, threats to their safety include loss of habitat and a decrease in sea ice caused by climate change.

Officials from the International Fund for Animal Welfare called for the animals to be designated as endangered because it would qualify them for protection under the ESA.

The launch of a review does not mean that the animals will definitely be included in the ESA but that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the evidence in the petition is sufficient to warrant a review of the the dangers facing the creatures.

Interested parties have been given until June 6 to submit their thoughts. Written comments and information concerning the proposal can be submitted by one of the following methods:

Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R9-ES-2010-0001]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

The ESA has listed a large number of fish, wildlife and plants as at-risk and the US Fish and Wildlife Service says that it has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperilled species and promoted the recovery of many others.