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Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens)

In 1941, the commercial harvest of walruses was banned in the United States. Passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in 1972 further protected walruses from overharvest by restricting the harvest to only Alaska Natives for subsistence and handicraft purposes. The annual harvest in Alaska is monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Management issues are jointly addressed by the USFWS and the Native co-management organization the Eskimo Walrus Commission (EWC). The EWC was established in 1978 to represent coastal walrus hunting communities in Alaska. In 1997, the EWC and USFWS signed a cooperative management agreement for the conservation and management of walruses.

The Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary in northern Bristol Bay, approximately 65 miles southwest of Dillingham, was created in 1960 to protect a group of 7 small islands and their adjacent waters, including Round Island, a terrestrial haulout for mostly male Pacific walruses in summer. The sanctuary provides important habitat for walruses and is one of 4 regularly active haulout sites in Bristol Bay. The sanctuary also protects habitats important for other wildlife including Steller sea lions and nesting seabirds. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) manages the sanctuary primarily to protect the habitats and the species that use them, but also to provide for public use and enjoyment of these resources including the opportunity for scientific and educational study, viewing, and photography. The subsistence hunting of walruses is allowed on Round Island and cooperatively regulated by the USFWS, ADF&G, and the Qayassiq Walrus Commission.