Protect Southern Resident Orcas - Act Now In Memory of J50!
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Sponsor: Defenders of Wildlife
With just 74 southern resident orcas left, the recent loss of a newborn and an adult female was devastating. We must save them!
The southern resident orca J-pod lost another member, four-year-old female J50. This is a devastating loss for the rapidly declining southern resident orca population and the third death this summer.
Despite the emergency response to feed her and provide her with medicine, these efforts were not enough. It is a heartbreaking reminder that we cannot save these whales on a case-by-case individual basis.
What J50 needed, and what her family continues to need, is healthy and abundant chinook salmon, which these orcas depend upon for survival. If we are unable to restore the salmon that these orcas need, more whales will starve to death.
Take action in memory of J50! Tell Governor Inslee to take immediate steps to save these orcas.
Dear Governor Inslee:
In memory of J50, I am writing to urge you to take immediate action to save southern resident orcas. Now only 74 orcas remain in the Salish Sea and they need your help! You can start by counteracting salmon-killing dams, restoring rivers and habitat, and reducing toxic stormwater runoff.
By recognizing the significant salmon restoration potential on the Lower Snake River and the historical importance these salmon (particularly spring chinook) to southern resident orcas, we ask that you convene and lead an appropriate stakeholder group to develop a plan for permanent restoration of the lower Snake River, including removing the four lower Snake River dams.
Changes in operations at existing dams are needed to improve salmon survival and restoration. Voluntary spill over dams has been shown to increase the number of returning adult salmon. Spill more naturally mimics the flow of undammed rivers, which quickly moves juvenile salmon from spawning grounds to the ocean. To allow dam operators greater flexibility to voluntarily spill more water over dams, especially during juvenile salmon out-migration, the state's total dissolved gas standards should be increased to 125%.
Under the State Environmental Policy Act, the state should require all new dam proposals to fully evaluate the potential impact that the proposed dam would have on reducing prey available to southern resident orcas. Current proposals regarding dam construction on the Chehalis River to address flooding should be required to analyze the impact dams on this river would have on prey availability to southern resident orcas.
The current "no-net-loss" policy in the state's Growth Management Act has been inadequate at protecting salmon habitat. Instead, we ask that you direct the state to explore instituting an "ecological-net-gain" policy that encourages riparian restoration and protection in both urban and rural settings, which will help reduce toxic stormwater runoff. This will be essential in mitigating some of the impacts caused by climate change, including increased water temperatures and increased flooding and erosion.
NOAA and Washington state were willing to mount an aggressive plan to save this one whale, and we need this type of leadership to save the entire population. Preventing the extinction of these unique whales will require bold leadership and tough choices, and we urge you to act and help protect these magnificent animals!