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Beluga whales in Alaska's Cook Inlet ruled endangered

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A judge has ruled that baluga whales have not recovered enough to assume we know why the population of the whale has declined.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal court judge has upheld the endangered species listing of Alaska's Cook Inlet beluga whales.

The state of Alaska and others had sued to overturn the listing by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

State attorneys argued the population was recovering and the white whales did not need extra protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act. They also said the listing would hurt Alaska economically by deterring commercial fishing, oil and gas exploration and tourism.

But Judge Royce C. Lambeth of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., upheld the listing in a decision Monday.

He wrote that the belugas had not made a noticeable recovery despite a decade without subsistence hunting, raising a concern that the true cause of the animals' decline has not been fully addressed.

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