Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Illegal Makah Whale Kill

This story makes me angry; however, I am very happy with the Makah Tribe's reaction...they denounced the members. I'd like to thank them for stepping forward and taking such a position.

Five rogue members of the Makah Tribe in Washington State killed a gray whale yesterday without tribal permission.

The former captain of the whaling crew that in 1999 took the Makah tribe's first whale in 70 years, Johnson confirmed that the hunt that shocked his own tribe and anti-whaling activists Saturday was done without the permission of his tribal council or the whaling commission. And it was done without conforming to conditions of the federal permit that controlled the 1999 hunt.

That hunt was carried out legally, with a permit secured from the tribe first, and with prior notification to a federal observer, who had to be in place at the time of the kill. The permit also required the hunt take place only on the outer coast, to protect so-called resident whales known to frequent nearshore waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Under the 1999 permit, the whalers were to spear the animal with a harpoon thrown from a traditional canoe, then dispatch the whale with a. 50 caliber gun.

There was none of that on Saturday: no permit, no observer, no canoe. No restricting the hunt to the outer coast, either. Just five whalers, four of them from the 1999 hunt, casting loose from the downtown dock and heading out to meet the whale on their own terms.

As stated earlier, the Makah Tribe itself has denounced the hunt.

Among members of the Makah tribe, Saturday's hunt is very controversial. The tribe is already receiving death threats over the kill. Tribal-council and whale-commission members were in a closed-door session most of this morning.

In the early afternoon, the council issued a one-page statement denouncing the actions of the whalers and promising prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. The tribe said it would cooperate with federal officials in the investigation of the hunt and that the whalers will stand trial in tribal court at a future date.

"We hope the public does not permit the action of five irresponsible persons to be used to harm the image of the entire Makah tribe," part of the statement said.

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