A federal agency is taking the eastern population of Steller sea lion off the threatened species list under the Endangered Species Act.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the eastern population has met recovery criteria the agency set in 2008.
In 1979, the agency estimated there were about 18,000 sea lions in the eastern population, which stretches from Alaska’s Panhandle to California’s Channel Islands. That number rose to more than 70,000 by 2010, the most recent year a count was available.
The western population of Steller sea lions, stretching from Cape Suckling, Alaska, west to Russian waters, remains listed as endangered.
The last species NOAA delisted was in 1994, when the eastern North Pacific gray whale was taken off the threatened species list.