Whalie Meatie — What a Treaty!
In other whale news, the Makah nation in northwestern Washington won another affirmation of its treaty rights late last week, when a U.S. district judge rejected efforts by animal rights activists to suspend Makah whaling until a lawsuit on the issue is resolved. The Makah are the only native people in the Lower 48 to retain the right to hunt whales through a treaty with the U.S. government. The tribe stopped hunting in the 1920s because whale populations had been decimated by commercial hunts. In 1994, when gray whales were removed from the endangered species list, the Makah sought to resume their hunts, citing cultural, spiritual, and subsistence reasons. Fund for Animals, a Washington, D.C.-based animal rights group, sued to block the hunts; a spokesperson for the fund said the group was disappointed with Friday’s ruling but planned to proceed with the rest of the case. Among other arguments, the plaintiffs allege that the government’s environmental impact assessment of Makah whaling was flawed.