Over 1 Billion Dollars Pledged for Orca Recovery by Washington Governor
In March of last year, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee initiated the Southern Resident Orca Task Force to take action on behalf of the endangered family of orcas in the Pacific Northwest, who have captured the hearts of people across the globe. Details of this billion-dollar initiative have recently been released.
The Task Force, consisting of roughly 50 experts from diverse sectors, was established after Tahlequah, a member of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population, carried her dead baby for 17 days, on what some called a “tour of grief.” Tahlequah, also known as J35, is one of only 74 orcas who make up the Southern Residents today. Sadly, it is predicted that two additional orcas, J17 and K25, will die before this coming summer.
In December 2018, Governor Inslee announced his $1.1 billion orca recovery plan based on the Task Force’s initial recommendations, which included four goals: increasing food availability, decreasing vessel noise and traffic as well as pollution, and ensuring ongoing conservation efforts.
Among the most drastic, and potentially life-saving of the Governor’s initiatives are a three-year moratorium on whale-watching of the Southern Residents; statewide efforts to increase Chinook salmon numbers by improving fish habitats; an evaluation of a bypass of the Lower Snake River Dams; and a spill program to send more water over the Columbia and Snake River dams.
Now, more than ever, action is needed to protect this vulnerable family and their ecosystem. Although Governor Inslee’s plan is a step in the right direction, the road towards implementing these important strategies remains strewn with obstacles. Stay tuned for updates and ways you can get involved.
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