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Activists Ask Halt to Makah Whaling

June 01, 2002|From Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. — Anti-whaling activists have asked a federal appeals court to temporarily halt gray whale hunting by the Makah tribe.

Tribal officials said they would not issue any whaling permits until Friday, when a ruling on the motion is expected from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess denied the activists' request for a similar preliminary injunction, citing the rights of the Makah to hunt whales under an 1855 treaty.

The Fund for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and other groups contend that Makah whaling will endanger the safety of people and the lives of "resident" gray whales that remain in the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the summer after most of the herd has migrated north.

They also contend that whaling management policies violate the National Environmental Policy Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A lawsuit addressing those claims is awaiting a decision in federal district court.

If the appeals court grants the injunction, which was filed Thursday, the Makah would be barred from taking any whales until the court could consider the merits of the activists' claims.

"In our [legal] system, they unfortunately get to do everything all over again," Makah attorney John Arum said of the new motion.

"It kind of never stops," he said. "This is the last stop for them, we hope."

The Makah moved to resume whaling after gray whales were taken off the Endangered Species List in 1994.

Makah hunters have killed one whale since, in May 1999.

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