The major recent threat to walruses has been hunting by humans. All subspecies were hunted intensely in the 1700s and 1800s. As noted above, the Atlantic walrus used to occur in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on Sable Island, but was hunted to extinction at these sites in the 1700s. Walruses are hunted for subsistence by indigenous peoples, but are otherwise protected globally. Threats to this species today are indirect, such as through pollution, possibly competition with fisheries, fisheries bycatch and habitat destruction from bottom fisheries. Pacific walrus recovered better from the intense hunting than did the Atlantic subspecies for unknown reasons. However, in recent years the Pacific walrus population appears to be declining. The reason for this decline is not yet known.
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