Puget Sound’s resident orcas will keep their protection, feds decide

August 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 4 Comments

(August 2011 photo by Craig Savey, taken from Harbor Island)
Consider that orca to be jumping for joy – as orca lovers and protectors are doing too, at least in spirit. The federal government is reported today to have rejected the petition filed earlier this year suggesting that the Southern Resident Killer Whales do not merit protection as a separate, endangered species, so that protection will continue. Here’s a link from The Seattle Times (WSB partner); here’s reaction from the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the petition that led to the SRKWs’ protection in 2005.

4 Comments

  1. I’m asking in earnest not just to be a jerk, but can someone explain why the designation matters? Surely as marine mammals they are protected from hunting either way.

    Comment by Jeff — 12:26 pm August 2, 2013 #

  2. Hunting is usually not the problem for endangered species in the US, Jeff, but rather it is loss or degradation of habitat. So the listing means that governments must continue to consider the impact of public/private actions on the orcas’ food source and habitat. (Think of the Spotted Owl — its designation as an endangered species means that logging in its habitat of old-growth forest is restricted.)

    Since the Southern Resident Killer Whales eat only salmon, the impact may extend to decisions about river flow, shoreline development, fishing limits, etc. It also reconfirms the decision that the SRKWs are a separate species from the other orcas that visit Puget Sound/Salish Sea, which are the mammal-eating Biggs whales (aka transient orcas). So it’s not good enough to say “there are plenty of orcas in the world, we don’t need to save these few,” which is basically what the petitioners (those who wanted to remove protection) were arguing.

    Comment by seaopgal — 1:54 pm August 2, 2013 #

  3. It’s not for hunting protection. There are many other ways to damage the species.

    Comment by AE — 2:28 pm August 2, 2013 #

  4. Jeff, it’s a valid question to ask. As others have responded already, hunting is not the issue. That’s one thing many people think these regulations and laws are preventing, however, most are not related to hunting at all. The biggest impact to wildlife is development and industries dumping toxins into waterways, ground and the air. That’s why the Duwamish is the most polluted waterway in the USA. It’s a federal superfund site, just like Hanford’s nuclear site waste issues. I’m glad they are continuing the protection of Orca’s here. It will also help other wildlife.

    Comment by Mike — 9:48 am August 3, 2013 #

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