As sea ice melts, agency says harm to walruses not proven

This photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus resting, Sept. 19, 2013 in Point Lay, Alaska. A lawsuit makin

This photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus resting, Sept. 19, 2013 in Point Lay, Alaska. A lawsuit makin

This July 15, 2012, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus and her young on an ice floe in East Chukchi Sea, Alask

This July 15, 2012, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus and her young on an ice floe in East Chukchi Sea, Alask

This June 12, 2010, photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows Pacific walruses resting on an ice flow in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska.  A

This June 12, 2010, photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows Pacific walruses resting on an ice flow in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. A

This photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus resting, Sept. 19, 2013 in Point Lay, Alaska.  A lawsuit maki

This photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus resting, Sept. 19, 2013 in Point Lay, Alaska. A lawsuit maki

FILE - In this July 17, 2012, file photo, adult female Pacific walruses rest on an ice flow with young walruses in the Eastern Chukchi Sea, Alaska.  A

FILE - In this July 17, 2012, file photo, adult female Pacific walruses rest on an ice flow with young walruses in the Eastern Chukchi Sea, Alaska. A

FILE - In this Sept. 2013 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey, Pacific walruses gather to rest on the shores of the Chukchi Sea near

FILE - In this Sept. 2013 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey, Pacific walruses gather to rest on the shores of the Chukchi Sea near

This Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows hundreds of Pacific walruses gathered togethe

This Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows hundreds of Pacific walruses gathered togethe

This July 20, 2011, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows Pacific walruses rest on an ice flow in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska.  A lawsuit mak

This July 20, 2011, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows Pacific walruses rest on an ice flow in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. A lawsuit mak

This Sept. 17, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows walruses as they clamber up on to the grassy tundra on a barrier island in Poin

This Sept. 17, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows walruses as they clamber up on to the grassy tundra on a barrier island in Poin

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A lawsuit making its way through federal court in Alaska will decide whether Pacific walruses should be listed as a threatened species, giving them additional protections.

Walruses use sea ice for giving birth, nursing and resting between dives for food but the amount of ice over several decades has steadily declined because of climate warming.

Walruses by late summer come ashore in Alaska and Russia because ice recedes beyond the shallow continental shelf where walruses can dive for clams.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says walruses are adapting to less ice and no one has proven that they need added protection.

The Center for Biological Diversity is fighting the decision.

Climate science director Shaye Wolf says walruses on shores have suffered stampede deaths and are pushed from feeding areas.