Mind Your Boat Speed, Leave Drone At Home Around Endangered Killer Whales
In Olympia, state lawmakers are considering stronger protections for the critically endangered population of resident killer whales.
A proposal to require boaters to slow down to no more than seven knots within 400 yards of orcas drew universal praise during an initial public hearing Tuesday.
Democratic Senator Kevin Ranker, the bill’s prime sponsor, said slower boats equal quieter boats.
“We know conclusively now—and we didn’t 10 years ago—that noise pollution has an incredible impact on these whales,” Ranker sad. “These whales communicate and hunt through echolocation and other forms of basically, sonar. When vessels are going by they create a tremendous amount of noise which causes increased stress for these animals and also makes them have a far more difficult time hunting for salmon.”
Ranker’s proposal would also forbid recreational aircraft and drones from approaching closer than 200 yards to an endangered orca. That’s the same standoff distance required of whale watching boats.
The state Senate bill also proposes to increase spending on marine patrols to enforce the distance and speed limits.
“While I am tremendously heartened about this bill, my only concern is it doesn’t go far enough fast enough,” said Donna Sandstrom, founder and director of the Seattle-based education and conservation nonprofit The Whale Trail. “Distance requirements alone are not working. The status quo is not working. I think and I hope the Department of Fish and Wildlife will consider a permitting system that limits the number of (whale watching) boats, the number of hours they are with the whales, perhaps where they can be with the whales.”
Copyright 2018 Northwest News Network
The Trump administration’s announced changes Monday to how the Endangered Species Act will be enforced by federal agencies set off waves of criticism, including vows by several states to challenge the move. Environmental groups also say they may sue to stop the new rules. Continue Reading Northwest Conservation Groups Contend New Federal Rules Threaten Wildlife
In a move that critics say will hurt plants, animals and other species as they face mounting threats, the Trump administration is making major changes to how the Endangered Species Act is implemented. Continue Reading Trump Administration Makes Major Changes To Endangered Species Protections
In the span of just a few years, the Washington State Patrol has built up a fleet of more than 100 drones. At last check, the Oregon State Police had three. The Washington patrol says its small quadcopters are used for crash investigations, not for surveillance. Continue Reading Washington State Patrol Builds Up Its Drone Fleet To More Than 100