WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has failed to respond to a petition submitted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to list two High Arctic caribou species (also known as reindeer) on the Endangered Species Act.
In September 2009, IFAW submitted a petition presenting substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that Peary and Dolphin-Union caribou are threatened with extinction by the effects of global climate change.
The Service failed to respond within the 90 days required under the Endangered Species Act, a likely product of understaffing and underfunding of the nation's vital Endangered Species Program.
"It is clear that these two sub-species of reindeer are in need of help right now," said Jeff Flocken, IFAW's Washington D.C. Office Director. "The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service needs improved listing systems and adequate resources to ensure that both domestic endangered species, and foreign imperiled species such as these reindeer, are evaluated in a timely manner."
Listing these species will provide both substantive protections and raised awareness to the global plight of caribou and reindeer populations. Of 43 global reindeer and caribou populations studied in the past decade, 34 have declining populations linked to climate change.
Unfortunately, no populations have declined as dramatically as the Peary and Dolphin-Union caribou in Canada. Peary caribou numbers have dropped from 50,000 in the late 1960s to fewer than 7,800 today. Climate change is altering weather in the High Arctic and caribou are dying when they can't access the food they need to survive.
"These caribou are literally starving to death," said Nathan Herschler, IFAW Legal Fellow and lead author of the petition. "Time is not on their side."
IFAW is committed to working with the government on an agreeable timeline to pass this important measure and ensure Peary and Dolphin-Union caribou receive the appropriate protection under the Endangered Species Act.
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare
As one of the world's leading animal welfare organization, IFAW has representation in 16 countries and carries out its animal welfare work in more than 40. IFAW works from its global headquarters in the United States and focuses its campaigns on improving the welfare of wild and domestic animals by reducing the commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting animals in distress. IFAW works both on the ground and in the halls of government to safeguard wild and domestic animals and seeks to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well-being of both animals and people. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare