The endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales support a multimillion dollar tourist economy in Puget Sound. They are perilously close to becoming too small a population to survive and reproduce, primarily due to lack of food. They are slowly starving. There are only 77 Southern Resident orcas remaining today. For more than two years, no calf has survived. In 2014 alone, the Southern Resident population has declined by 5%, with the recent death of J32, Rhapsody, and her calf. At 18 years old, J32 was just coming into her own and was among the most likely females to contribute to the killer whales’ recovery for years to come. With her death, another J Pod matriline, the J10’s, will die out. Rhapsody’s death embodies the plight of the Southern Resident Killer Whales.
Chinook salmon are the killer whales’ primary food. Chinook salmon runs originating in the Columbia/Snake River watershed are the singular most important food source for the killer whales’ survival. Chinook salmon are endangered species themselves. There are not enough Chinook salmon to sustain even the 77 Southern Residents Killer Whales that are alive today.
Each year the Snake River dams kill many millions of Chinook salmon juveniles as they attempt to navigate the dams and migrate down river and out to the ocean. Despite the dams, some Chinook salmon do make it to the ocean and grow to adults. The dams again exact their toll when adult Chinook return to the Columbia/Snake watershed to spawn. The dams finish the killing cycle by impeding the Chinooks return to their spawning grounds.
According to hundreds of scientists, removal of the four Lower Snake River dams is the single most effective way to generate the abundant Columbia Basin salmon that Southern Resident Killer Whales need to survive and recover. Judge Redden, the judge who presided over the decades long Columbia/Snake River legal case involving salmon and hydropower, also believes the dams need to come down. Yet as the orcas spiral towards extinction, the federal government refuses to consider dam removal, and instead spends billions of dollars on unreasonable and speculative habitat restoration measures to avoid significant changes to dam operations.
It is time for Congress to authorize removal of the four lower Snake River dams. Please join us in calling for Congress to pass legislation to remove these concrete barriers to the orcas’ continued to survival.
(Dec. 24, 2015) Since posting this petition we have learned that the President can take executive action to breach the dams. We are now asking the President to do this. In addition to signing this petition, please write, call or email the President and request he use his executive power to breach the dams, and please write, call and email Senators Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Governor Jay Inslee and ask them to support President Obama taking executive action to breach the lower Snake River dams.
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Stand with us and support removing the four lower Snake River dams to save the Southern Resident Killer Whales from being dammed to extinction.
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