With only 75 orcas, the lowest number in more than 30 years, left in the wild, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for failing to protect their habitat off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. The suit filed this week in the United States District Court Western District Of Washington at Seattle claims that the National Marine Fisheries Service, the West Coast Regional Administrator, and the Secretary of Commerce has failed to act on the Center’s 2014 petition calling for an expansion habitat protections off Washington, Oregon, and California. The protections could help Southern Resident killer whales and combat starvation for lack of salmon. The whales also being hurt by boat traffic and water pollution. “With only 75 left, time is running out fast for these magnificent, intelligent orcas,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center.
The press release explains that while spending their summers in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea (areas protected as critical habitat in 2006), these killer whales travel extensively along the West Coast during the winter and early spring, congregating near coastal rivers to rest and feed on migrating salmon. “It’s heartbreaking to watch them starving to death and mourning their dead calves. Every day that Trump’s people delay action is a step toward extinction for these whales.”
For a brief moment, the news seemed to be good. In 2015 the Fisheries Service committed to expanding habitat protections to safeguard key West Coast foraging and migration areas. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has failed to implement the protections. The Center has established that species in protected areas are twice likely to be recovering as species without it, and orcas’ number dwindling to 75, the time to take action is now.
The Scope Weekly contacted the Fisheries Services for comments but at the time of publishing we haven’t heard back. If new information is provided, the story will be updated as needed.
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