The federal government has declared that the beluga whale in Alaska's Cook Inlet is endangered and will require additional protection to survive.
The findings by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conflict with claims by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has questioned scientific evidence that the beluga whale population in the waters near Anchorage is still declining, despite a decade-long recovery effort.
But NOAA, in putting the whale under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act, said Friday the whale population declined by 50 percent between 1994 and 1998 and "is still not recovering."
Copyright AP - Associated Press