Response Statements

Response Statement - Northern Fur Seal

Most of the animals that winter in Canadian waters breed at four islands, of which three are in Alaska (two in the Pribilof Islands – St Paul, St George - plus Bogoslof) and one in California (San Miguel). Pup production is used as an index of population size. Pup production at the two largest breeding colonies, both in the Pribilof Islands, which presently account for 90% of all fur seals in the eastern Pacific, has been declining for the last 45 years and pup numbers at these colonies have declined by 38% over the last 30 years (3 generations). Numbers of pups have been increasing in the much smaller colony at Bogoslof Island. Taken together, these trends in pup production mean it is likely that numbers of mature individuals will continue to decline. In 2008 there were approximately 650,000 fur seals in the eastern Pacific compared with more than 2 million in the 1950s. There is potential for rescue from Asian colonies in the western Pacific, although little is known about dispersal in mature females. The causes of the declines are unknown, but continuing and potential threats include entanglement, prey limitation, oil spills and the effects of contaminants.

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