Save America’s Wildlife

Environment America to Biden Administration: Save the Southern Resident orcas

Environment America, Environment Washington and Environment Oregon submitted over 10,000 public comments to the Biden Administration in support of breaching the Lower Snake River dams in order to save salmon, and in turn, the Southern Resident Orcas.

NOAA via Pixabay | Public Domain

It wasn’t long ago that we all watched as a 20-year-old orca mother, Tahlequah carried her dead calf for 17 days and 1,000 miles. Tahlequah’s journey was a gut-wrenching reminder of the southern Resident orcas’ plight. One of the main reasons why the Southern Resident orcas are critically endangered is because their primary food source- Chinook salmon- are in scarce supply all throughout their range, from northern California up to southeastern Alaska. Chinook salmon, the largest & fattiest of all the salmonid species, make up the majority of their diets. 

We have focused on restoring the Lower Snake River in the Columbia River basin because this river has historically held some of the largest salmon runs in the region, and ~50% of the Chinook that orcas eat in coastal waters are from the Columbia Basin. Breaching the Lower Snake River dams is the single biggest opportunity to rejuvenate endangered salmon populations, which the Southern Resident orcas depend on. The science is clear- salmon in the Columbia basin are on a path to extinction. 

As Senator Murray and Gov. Inslee stated last summer in the release of their plan outlining how the services of the four Lower Snake River dams can be replaced, the extinction of salmon, and everything that depends on them, is categorically unacceptable.

Today, Environment America, Environment Washington and Environment Oregon submitted 10,299 public comments to the Biden Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality that read:

“Southern Resident orcas eat almost exclusively Chinook salmon, but their primary food source is in scarce supply all throughout their range. The Lower Snake River has historically held some of the largest salmon runs in the region and has been an important food source for the Southern Resident orcas, but unfortunately, the Chinook salmon that endangered Southern Resident orcas depend on are on a path to extinction.

I support breaching the Lower Snake River dams and restoring a free-flowing Lower Snake River. This is the single biggest opportunity we have to restore salmon to abundance. We have alternatives for how we can power our society and move goods from one place to another. Salmon don’t have this choice. They need a river, and orcas need salmon.”

We have alternatives for how we can power our society and move goods from one place to another. Salmon don’t have this choice. They need a river, and orca need salmon. Please follow through on the commitments that your Administration has made. Breach the Lower Snake River dams as quickly as possible so salmon and orca don’t go extinct.

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