Puget Sound Resident Orcas
5:09 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Farmers Challenge Resident Orca Endangered Species Status

California farmers are challenging the federal government’s decision to list Puget Sound’s southern resident killer whale as an endangered species. These whales have been on the list since 2005. There are 86 left.

The resident orcas of Puget Sound are a distinct subspecies of killer whale. They eat salmon – not marine mammals. Their markings are slightly different from the rest of the killer whale family. So are their calls and their DNA.

The Pacific Legal Foundation is calling for the federal government to remove the southern resident orcas from the endangered species list.

Daniel Himebaugh is an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Himebaugh: “The petitioners that we’re representing are farmers in California who have had water allocations cut back and have had to drastically reduce their operations.”

These orcas eat the salmon that populate California’s San Joaquin Delta. Under the Endangered Species act, that means there needs to be enough water in the river for those fish. If orcas are taken off the list, the farmers could get more water.

Copyright 2012 KUOW