Less news play is being given to the plight of beluga whales in Alaska's Cook Inlet. The two topics are connected because Palin has joined other Alaska politicians in criticising a decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare the whales endangered. You can read the NOAA press release for details. Most news accounts lay stress on Palin's opposition to the decision. Examples:
1. NYT: Whale Protection Is Bolstered as Palin Objects, by William Yardley.
The federal government on Friday placed beluga whales that live in Cook Inlet in Alaska on the endangered species list, rejecting efforts by Gov. Sarah Palin and others against increased protection.2. AP: Government declares beluga whale endangered, by Dan Joling.
The relatively small, whitish whales, sometimes visible from downtown Anchorage, declined by almost 50 percent in the late 1990s, and federal scientists say they have not rebounded despite a series of protections, including a halt to subsistence hunting by Alaska Natives. About 375 whales have been counted in Cook Inlet each of the last two years, according to scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska—The beluga whales of Alaska's Cook Inlet are endangered and require additional protection to survive, the government declared Friday, contradicting Gov. Sarah Palin who has questioned whether the distinctive white whales are actually declining.3. The online-only paper efluxmedia: Palin Loses Again: Cook Inlet Beluga Whales Listed As Endangered.
It was the Republican vice presidential candidate's second environmental slap from Washington this year. She has asked federal courts to overturn an Interior Department decision declaring polar bears threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The government on Friday put a portion of the whales on the endangered list, rejecting Palin's argument that it lacked scientific evidence to do so. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that a decade-long recovery program had failed to ensure the whales' survival.
As much as NOAA highlighted the importance of protecting the endangered whales, Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a strong opponent of enlisting them as endangered. Gov. Palin has also opposed the polar bear decision earlier this year, suing the federal government for adopting it, which clearly interfered with her administration’s plans of offshore oil drilling.Understandably, the Alaska press brings out some of the potential negative impacts from the decision. See, for example, Feds list Cook Inlet belugas as endangered species, By George Bryson And Don Hunter, Anchorage Daily News, or Cook Inlet belugas listed as endangered, by Leyla Santiago and Rebecca Palsha, KTUU TV.
Myself, I think it's inconcievable that an agency of the Bush Administration would declare an animal endangered unless the evidence were overwhelming and unavoidable.
Also, I have a great liking for the animals. During our family vacation last summer I was pleasantly mesmerized by the grace and beauty of the belugas in the giant oceanarium at Chicago's magnificent Shedd Aquarium.
Cook Inlet beluga whales joined a long list of endangered species Friday. (KTUU-TV)
Historically, the Cook Inlet beluga population was around 1,300. But the latest reports show their numbers at 375. (KTUU-TV)
One of the few remaining Cook Inlet beluga whales (Photo courtesy NOAA)
Qannik, a 6-year-old beluga whale, swims in a tank at his new home at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., Monday, June 11, 2007. Beluga whales in Alaska's Cook Inlet are endangered and require additional protection to survive, the government declares, contradicting Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has questioned whether the striking white whales are declining. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)