Mike Williamson (
Wed, 17 Nov 1999 09:39:11 -0500 (EST)

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Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 22:39:21 -0800
From: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society <>
Reply-To: seashepherd <>
To: seashepherd <>

Governor Locke will weigh state protection for resident Gray whales

Saying "I have always been against the hunt," Washington Governor Gary
Locke told whale activists in Port Angeles on Tuesday that he will consider
the option of intervening against the killing of Gray whales by the Makah
Indian tribe.
      State lawmakers have previously said they could not intervene, as the
hunt concerns a treaty between an Indian tribe and the federal government,
but state law gives the governor the authority to intervene in federal and
tribal fishery matters when tribal hunting or fishing would defeat the
state's interest in conserving a species classified as protected. The Gray
whale is listed as a protected species under the rules of the Washington
State Department of Fish and Wildlife. 
      That option caught the governor's attention when brought up by Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society President Paul Watson and Chuck Owens of the
Peninsula Citizens for the Protection of Whales, who met with the governor
and Department of Wildlife officials in Port Angeles on Tuesday along with
Washington Citizens Coastal Alliance activists and Makah elder Alberta
"Binky" Thompson. 
     They spoke with the Governor and his aides at a lunch meeting after
the governor's steps were dogged by protestors -- bearing signs with such
legends as "Welcome to Clallam County: Whale Killing Capital of the USA" --
during his tour of downtown Port Angeles, which had been designated
Washington's  "Capital for the Day" for the occasion of Locke's visit. 
      "The Governor told us that after talking with us today, he is asking
the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to look into the resident
whale issue and see what they can do about it," said Owens, founder of the
PCPW. "He said 'I have always been against the hunt, and we are going to
pursue the matter.' "
      The crux of the matter is the growing certainty that the Makah have
been hunting resident, not migratory, Gray whales off the coast of
Washington, and that the whale they killed on May 17 was from that specific
group of whales, which numbers between 35 and 200 animals. The herd is
considered a separate population from the total Pacific herd, which is
estimated to number around 24,000. "The primary migration occurs from
Mid-December to mid-January, and from late February through the end of
April," said Watson. "The Makah have been hunting outside those time
frames, and any take at all from the resident herd is clearly a
conservation threat. The state of Washington is legally obligated to bar
the hunt for that reason. The Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations
are clear: 'Wildlife classified as protected shall not be hunted or fished.' "
     Whale biologist Jim Darling underscored this argument in an article in
the July 14 issue of the Vancouver Sun, in which he noted that the timing
of the Makah's hunts and their stated intent to only strike migrating
whales have been equivalent to "declaring you want to catch someone in the
morning rush hour, but not trying until 11 a.m."