Victoria Times Colonist February 4, 2012
By Judith Lavoie
Canadian opposition is growing to a U.S plan to attach satellite tags to endangered southern resident killer whales.
The 89 whales, from three pods, spend much of their time in the water between southern Vancouver Island and Washington state. Little is known about their winter movements and the U.S. federal government has given approval for researchers to tag two whales from each pod.
Information from the GPS tags will give vital information about where the whales spend their time and will help identify critical habitat areas, said Brad Hanson, wildlife biologist with the U.S.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is leading the tagging program.
But members of the whale-watching industry and environmental organizations are worried that the tags could harm the whales and are questioning why the U.S. made a unilateral decision without consulting Canada.
“The nominal information that might be generated from deploying these invasive tags to the fins of endangered killer whales simply does not justify the risk of serious injury resulting from the tags,” said Raincoast Conservation Foundation biologist Misty MacDuffee.
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