From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published September 11, 2007 03:15 PM

Grey What Harpooned, Killed Near Seattle, Tribal Hunt Condemned

Washington, D.C. ” A prominent wildlife group is condemning the killing of a gray whale yesterday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca by some members of the Makah Tribe, calling the killing of the protected animal illegal, cruel, and callous. The inland seaway where the whale was killed is located in the Seattle area.


Today the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported that leaders of the Makah tribe also condemned the killing and vowed to prosecute the individuals responsible, saying the hunt took place without the permission of the tribe. The men may also face federal charges.


According to a report in the Peninsula Daily News, the whale was both "shot (with a gun) and harpooned in the morning, and then languished for the rest of the day. It was unable to swim away because it was attached to inflated buoys. Finally, around 7:30 p.m., it stopped moving. U.S. Coast Guard sailors cut the lines to the buoys and the animal sank." Other reports indicate the animal was shot 21 times with a high-powered rifle.


A spokeswoman for the Animal Welfare Institute said the killing should be punished. “The American public should be aghast and angry that five members of the Makah Tribe have harpooned and shot a harmless, sentient and intelligent gray whale,” states Cathy Liss, President of the Animal Welfare Institute. “This tragedy was committed in violation of Federal and State laws and we expect and insist that the state, federal, and tribal law enforcement authorities arrest, charge, and prosecute all involved in this incident to the fullest extent.”


Though not supported by all tribal members, the Makah Tribe, with the assistance of the U.S. government and at taxpayer expense, has been trying to kill gray whales since 1996 for what they say are subsistence needs. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has twice ruled that the government’s required environmental analysis was deficient and has prohibited the hunt, although members of the Tribe were able to kill one gray whale in 1999 in the midst of legal fighting.


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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is now preparing a more detailed environmental document and addressing other legal matters to facilitate future whaling by members of the Makah Tribe through a waiver process under the Marine Mammal Protection Act - the law enacted to protects all whales from harm by U.S. citizens. In May of this year, the U.S. secured - some argue illegally - a quota to kill gray whales from the International Whaling Commission ” the body responsible for the management of the great whales ” on behalf of those Makah tribal members who desire to kill whales.


“The U.S. government must react to this brazen act of lawlessness and cruelty by terminating its current efforts to allow for future whaling by the Makah Tribe,” explains D.J. Schubert, AWI’s wildlife biologist. “AWI will be officially petitioning NMFS to cease wasting taxpayer dollars and demonstrate the seriousness of this crime by terminating its efforts to help the Tribe to whale and instead to permanently protect the gray whales, both resident and migratory, who inhabit waters in and around Neah Bay.” He adds.



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