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Orcas are majestic animals. They're highly intelligent and devoted to their families. They hunt together and share food. They capture our imaginations. And they are in trouble.
Human-caused environmental changes have left the Southern Resident orcas of the Northwest fighting for survival. One of the biggest threats that they face is the scarcity of the endangered salmon that make up 80 percent of their diet. The construction of hundreds of dams along salmon migration routes has left salmon populations in free-fall. That, coupled with the pollution and contamination of the food chain, has left orcas sick and struggling to find food.
Tell Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that you support strong protections for Southern Resident orcas and the salmon that they depend on.
Dear Secretary Wilbur Ross,
Southern Resident orcas are icons of the Salish Sea and the American Northwest. But sadly, these whales are on the verge of extinction. And without immediate action, we could lose them forever.
I am writing as a Defender of Wildlife to encourage you to be a leader in the fight to recover the Southern Resident orcas.
This fish-eating orca population faces multiple threats; from poisonous chemicals in the food chain, to noise pollution, to chemical discharges into the waterways the orcas call home. And because the increasingly scarce endangered Chinook salmon make up 80 percent of their diet, Southern Resident orcas are having such a tough time finding food that they are slowly starving to death.
The Department of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service must take proactive steps to clean up derelict and abandoned ships that ooze toxic pollutants into the water and to enforce the "rules of the road" for boat traffic to minimize harmful encounters between orcas and vessels. They must aid in the fight to remove outdated dams along salmon migration routes and to increase and restore vital salmon habitat so that orcas will have plenty of healthy salmon to eat. They must also finalize proposals that would expand critical habitat on the west coast all the way down to Monterey Bay.
There is not a moment to lose in the fight to save the Southern Resident orcas.