Whale Advocates File for Injunction to Stop Impending Makah Whale Hunt

The Fund for Animals, The Humane Society
of the United States, and others have filed a motion for a
preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court to stop an
impending gray whale hunt by the Makah tribe. The
injunction was in response to the Makah's imminent plans to
kill whales. The original lawsuit was filed in January.

Despite a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the previous
environmental study authorizing the whale hunt violated
federal law, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service
have actually expanded the hunt by now allowing hunting
within the Strait of Juan de Fuca and any time during the
year. As a result, it is much more likely that a summer
resident whale — a small, behaviorally distinct group of gray
whales — would be killed and that threats to human safety
will be increased.

The plaintiffs argue that the agencies have again violated
the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to
adequately study the ways in which the Makah whale hunt
could adversely affect the environment, especially because
the expanded hunt poses an even greater risk to the area's
summer resident gray whales and human safety. The
plaintiffs also argue that the agencies' authorization of the
whale hunt violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act,
which expressly prohibits whaling, while creating an
exemption for Alaskan tribes but not for the Makah. The
plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction now to avoid
irreparable harm — particularly to the small summer resident
population — pending a final resolution of the lawsuit.

"Whaling may have been a tradition in the past, but there is
nothing traditional about cruelly shooting these majestic
creatures with high-powered rifles," said Michael Markarian,
executive vice president of The Fund for Animals. "The
Makah went more than 70 years without hunting whales,
and they can certainly wait until this litigation is resolved
rather than jump the gun and cause irreparable harm to
these animals."

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