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Puget Sound Orcas in Trouble

by Jim Tuggle
The Olympian, May 23, 2018

A young resident killer whale chases a chinook salmon near Vancouver Island. (Photograph by John Durban/NOAA The recent letter from Elyette Marla Weinstein regarding salmon and Orca recovery was well intentioned but misleading on one point: It is Puget Sound's Orca population that is in trouble.

Gov. Inslee's statements and concern about our dwindling Orcas are right on. Puget Sound's Chinook salmon runs, once so abundant even 40 years ago, have shrunk to alarmingly low levels. Competing and inaccurate science from all sorts of sources plus a lack of good salmon management, coupled with the changing salmon habitat and environmental alterations, are driving Puget Sound Chinook salmon to extinction. Salmon "scientists" at various levels of government might claim otherwise, but the proof is in the pudding, as Puget Sound salmon populations are at their lowest levels ever.

Puget Sound Orcas need Chinook salmon to survive. Meanwhile seal and sea lion populations continue to expand, taking more than 60 percent of Puget Sound's diminishing salmon runs with no population controls proposed. Many believe that to save the Chinook from extinction we need to expand hatchery Chinook supplementation to turn the tide of salmon extinction.

The shrinking salmon run issue to Puget Sound is an extremely complex problem that has no silver bullet fixes, but so far our salmon "scientists" are not stemming the tide of diminishing salmon runs. There are solutions, but they are not politically popular. I appreciate Ms. Weinstein's views on removing the Snake River dams, but their removal will have little effect on Puget Sound's sad Orca future.

Jim Tuggle, Tumwater
Puget Sound Orcas in Trouble
The Olympian, May 23, 2018

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