Pacific Legal Foundation aims to overturn endangered species listing of Northwest's killer whales
Source: Scott Learn, The Oregonian
A conservative public interest law firm today challenged the 2005 endangered species listing of Puget Sound's resident killer whales, saying federal regulators improperly invented a new subspecies of the whale to justify the listing.
Three killer whale pods live in Western Washington inland waters from late spring to early fall and also swim along the coasts of Oregon and California.
Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reaffirmed the listing of these "southern resident" killer whales as endangered, saying there were only 86 whales in the small population. That's up from a low of 79 in 2002, but down from historical levels of 140 or more in the past century.
In its petition to NOAA to de-list the whales, the Pacific Legal Foundation argues that the agency improperly broke out the southern resident pods from the much larger North Pacific killer whale population. Whales in the Northeast Pacific alone number from 2,250 to 2,700, the petition notes.
The listing under the Endangered Species Act was based on "a nonexistent and scientifically unjustifiable subspecies of North Pacific resident whales," the petition asserts.
It was filed on behalf of the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability and two farms in California's San Joaquin Valley.
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