Court Upholds Block on Makah Whale Hunt

Whale advocates are celebrating in the wake of a federal appeals court ruling last week that will make it tougher for the Makah tribe of Washington state to resume hunting gray whales. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn a ban on whaling and ordered the tribe to conduct a full environmental impact statement to determine the potential effects of whaling before it moves forward with planned hunts. Gray whales, once close to extinction, were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1994. The Makahs then sought and eventually received permission to kill 20 whales over five years, but they only got one before the courts ruled in 2002 that their whaling permit didn’t conform to federal environmental laws. The Makahs criticized last week’s ruling and vowed to continue their push for whaling rights, which they say are guaranteed by treaty.