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
Conservation groups say the animals need to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Ten groups want to force the federal government to protect the elusive wolverines. The groups estimate there are around 300 wolverines left, sparsely scattered across the Mountain West, including Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Continue Reading Where Have All The Wolverines Gone? Apparently Not On The Endangered Species List (Yet)
Airbus has wrapped up flight testing of a pilotless air taxi in eastern Oregon skies and is moving on. The global aerospace company, along with its rival Boeing and many others, is striving to make flying cars an option for your urban commute someday. Continue Reading Robo Air Taxi Testing Wraps Up At Pendleton Airport, And Airbus Moves On
At the end of the Obama administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came up with a plan that was supposed to shorten a backlog of species that might need a place on the endangered species list or need more critical habitat protected. But the Center for Biological Diversity says that plan has gone by the wayside under the Trump administration. Continue Reading Conservationists Push Federal Managers On Timeline Of Endangered Species Determinations