Center for Biological Diversity

Take Action to Protect Beluga Whale Habitat

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Once numbering more than 1,000 whales, the Cook Inlet beluga has been reduced to just more than 300 individuals and is now threatened by oil and gas development, coal mining, pollution, shipping, and other impacts to its habitat: Cook Inlet, the fastest-growing watershed in Alaska.

In October 2008, federal officials responded to a petition and litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity and our allies by protectinge Cook Inlet’s magnificent beluga whale as an endangered species -- over the objections of then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. .
But rather than designate federally protected critical habitat for the beluga at the time of listing -- as required by the Endangered Species Act -- the Fisheries Service deferred habitat protection for a year. After no action in a year, the Center formally notified the agency in October 2009 that we’d file a lawsuit to force the overdue habitat designation.
On Tuesday, December 1, in response to the Center’s efforts, the federal National Marine Fisheries Service finally took an important step toward protecting this imperiled whale's critical habitat by proposing to designate more than 3,000 square miles –almost 2 million acres -- of habitat for protection.
The Fisheries Service is now seeking public comment, and we need your help to make sure that this proposal is finalized as soon as possible and implemented -- along with a federal recovery plan -- to ensure the imperiled Cook Inlet beluga whale’s survival.  Fill in the form below to submit your comments and urge the Fisheries Service to expand the designation to include all areas identified in the conservation plan as important habitat for the species.

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Please submit comments by January 31, 2010.

Beluga photo (c) Mike Tiller, MCT Images.