More than 60 young Pacific walruses died in northwest Alaska, likely because they were spooked into a stampede.
Authorities found the dead animals earlier this week during a survey of the area. Sixty-four walruses, most younger than 1 year old, were found near the Inupiaq Eskimo village of Point Lay, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
While the causes of death are not known yet, agency spokeswoman Andrea Medeiros said they were likely caused by a stampede of walruses rushing to the sea.
“Our thinking is, because of the age of the animals — they were young animals — it’s likely that it was caused by a stampede, probably more likely than disease, given the age class,” Medeiros said.
A polar bear, hunter, airplane or boat might have caused a stampede; Alaskan Natives of Point Lay are legally permitted to hunt walruses for food.