Shell Oil has plans to drill in walrus territory, but environmental groups won't let the company move forward without a fight.
Environmental law group Earthjustice is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to block drilling in walruses' Arctic habitats.
In a letter speaking out against Shell, the Center for Biological Diversity's Kierán Suckling highlighted some of the potential problems that walruses would face were drilling to occur:
Just as Alaska's walruses are in a deadly struggle against melting sea ice, Shell wants to drill in their native homes. This will be devastating for walruses; not only will they be at risk to the frequent oil spills that are a regular part of ocean drilling, they'll also suffer from the loss of sea ice this drilling will produce. [Emphasis original]
From 1981 to 1999, the population of Pacific walruses fell by almost half, the U.S. Geological Survey reported in September 2014. According to the report, 1999 is the last year population data for the animals were available; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, for example, lists the walrus as "data deficient," meaning they don't have enough information to determine whether the status of the walrus should be listed as safe, endangered or somewhere in between.