Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Cook Inlet beluga whales are listed as endangered, which means they in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
In May 2000, NMFS designated Cook Inlet beluga whales as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. However, at that time, the agency determined that the Cook Inlet beluga whale population was not threatened or endangered under the ESA. But, because this stock did not show significant evidence of recovery thereafter, NMFS initiated a second Status Review in the spring of 2006.
In October 2008, NMFS determined that beluga whales in the Cook Inlet needed protection under the ESA, and, on October 22, 2008, listed the population as endangered. In April 2011, NMFS designated critical habitat for these whales in the Cook Inlet.
IUCN Red List: Beluga whales are listed as near threatened, meaning it is is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future. Cook Inlet belugas, however, are listed as critically endangered, meaning they are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, and the calculated probability of extinction during the next 10 years is greater than 50%.
Beluga whales are listed under CITES Appendix II.