Makah Whaling – Whales Must Be Protected in U.S. Waters

Makah Whaling – Whales Must Be Protected in U.S. Waters

March 11, 2015

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

Gray WhaleGray Whale
Photo courtesy of Wiki media commons.

Sea Shepherd Legal (SSL) will make a presentation on April 27th in Seattle at a hearing to be held by NOAA Fisheries on the proposal by the Makah Tribe to kill gray whales in the waters off Washington state. SSL’s position is that this permission should not be granted and that whales must be protected 100% in U.S. waters.

SSL is also exploring legal avenues of opposition to this proposal. Tradition and culture must never be a justification for the killing of whales and dolphins or for violating international conservation law.

In 1998, Sea Shepherd exposed documents released under the Freedom of Information Act that exposed negotiations between the Makah and the Japanese whaling industry that would have sold meat from the “traditional” hunt to the Japanese market.

As Makah Tribal Elder Alberta Thompson said at the time, “This is not tradition. It was part of our culture to weave baskets and to pick berries in the mountains. It was part of our culture to speak our language. No one want to weave baskets or to speak Makah. What they want to do is to kill a whale with an anti-tank gun – and that has never been a part of Makah culture.”

Sea Shepherd Legal is a 501(c)(3) entity, operating separately from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Makah tribe grey whale hunt question reopened by NOAA report

A World that Never Was


Revisionist history may seem like harmless, feel good child’s play, but the threat it poses (to all other animals at least) is that without hearing the real story, people will never learn from the past.

It’s tempting to want to believe that all that has gone wrong with the human race is the result of being led astray by our technology, and if we could just get back to our caveman roots, everything would be happy and harmonious like it surely was back then. But contrary to contemporary popular belief, that’s a world that never was.

Even the earliest human hunters drove countless species to extinction and exhausted their carrying capacities time and again, ever since plant-eating primates first climbed down from the trees and decided to take up big-game hunting.10418292_778659628825562_4081410081902108848_n

The notion of the peaceful savage has long since been disproven, but people want to cling to it rather than accept the truth about human nature. Just look at the dead-animal adornments any warrior or tribal chief wore, and it’s easy to see the roots of trophy hunting.

The thought that any spear-wielding species who took advantage of fire to herd animals toward a cliff or into a box canyon had an innate sense of ecological fairness goes against all that made us human—envy, lust, greed, gluttony, a lack of empathy and an over-blown ego are the kinds of things that ultimately define a hunter, whether the motive for their behavior is sport or subsistence.

Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson summed up the chapter, “Paradise Imagined,” of their book, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, thusly, “There is no such thing as paradise, not in the South Seas, not in southern Greece, not anywhere. There never has been. To find a better world we must look not to a romanticized and dishonest dream forever receding into the primitive past, but to a future that rests on a proper understanding of ourselves.”

Humans have achieved an awful lot of success as a species over the years, but judging by our planet-crushing prowess, we may have finally breached our collective britches.


Talk About Double Standards

Predictably, ever since I posted about Jaylen Ray Fryberg, the teenager who went on a shooting rampage at a Washington State High School, killing a female student and wounding four others before killing himself, I’ve been getting comments stating that since the school shooter was a native, he was entitled to hunt for food (as though he came from an exceptionally poor household–which he did not). The fact that went completely over their heads was that having been taught to kill an animal like an elk at an early age made it easier for him to shoot his fellow humans. It was as though, to them, he was a saint, even though the news is now telling us he lured his victims to the lunchroom before shooting them.

“…On Friday, after texting five friends to invite them to lunch, he pulled out a handgun in the cafeteria and started shooting. The victims were Zoe R. Galasso, 14, who died at the scene; Gia Soriano, 14, who died at a hospital Sunday night; Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, who remains in critical condition; and his two cousins, Nate Hatch, 14, and Andrew Fryberg, 15.

Andrew Fryberg also remained in critical condition. Hatch, who was shot in the jaw, is the only victim who has shown improvement. He was upgraded to satisfactory condition Monday in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center…”

If a non-native person murdered with such premeditation, people would be demanding to know what was wrong with him to behave that savagely. Or, he would just be considered evil (as perhaps he should).

I decided not to give the would-be commenters special treatment by approving their pro-hunting statements. Natives no longer live in the stone age or use primitive weapons, so why should they remain in the dark ages as far as their treatment of non-human animals? 

Talk about double standards.


A Field Guide to the North American Hunter

People tend to paint all wildlife-killers with a single brush stroke, referring to them all simply as “hunters.” Yet close scientific observation reveals that there are at least five different categories, or sub-species, of the mutation of Homo sapiens known as the North American hunter (Homo hunter horribilis). Oddly, members of some sub-species don’t like to be associated with others. They can’t all be bad apples, can they? Read on…

1) Sport Hunter

This category can actually be applied to all the other sub-species, including theimagesD5ZT7PC1 universally maligned trophy hunter, as well as the so-called subsistence hunter, since nearly no one in this day and age really has to kill wild animals to survive anymore. Lately we’ve been hearing from a lot of hunter apologists quick to make a distinction between sport and subsistence hunters. Truth is there’s not all that much difference between the two. Sport hunters and subsistence hunters are often so closely related, they’re practically kissin’ cousins. Rare is the hunter who doesn’t justify his sport by boasting about “using the meat.” By the same token, you hardly ever find one who openly admits to being just a sport hunter.

But, being by far the largest sub-class, there are obviously plenty of adherents. For reasons known only to them, they like to refer to themselves as “sportsmen” (or “sportswomen”). When not out killing, they are often seen petitioning Congress to enshrine their perceived right to kill animals (meanwhile mocking the very notion that non-human animals have rights).

Tracks: On the rare occasion that these good ol’ boy traditional sport hunters get out of their vehicles (usually a pickup truck with a bench seat, so they can sit on their camo-clad asses three abreast), you’ll find their tell-tale boot tracks weaving along the roadway—a sure sign the Schmidt-swilling hunter has spotted a deer, or needs to take a pee.

Other spoor to watch for: spent shotgun shells and cigarette butts in parking lots, or 16 ounce beer cans and empty fried pork rind bags ejected out the truck window, along forest roadways.


2) Subsistence Hunters

10478663_666186560097028_1055574252307234730_nThis category includes the holier than hemp types who use words like “foodie,” and all those others who claim to hunt mainly for food. Subsistence types conveniently ignore the fact that there are 7 billion human meat-eaters on the planet today, and if they all followed their model for “living off the land,” there would be no wildlife left on Earth.

Like sport hunters, subsistence hunters do what they do because they want to; they enjoy the “outdoor lifestyle.” But not many self-proclaimed “subsistence” hunters are willing to give up modern conveniences—their warm house, their car, cable TV or the ever-present and attendant “reality” film crew—and live completely off the land like a Neanderthal…at least not indefinitely.

While everyone has a right to feed themselves and their family, what gives them the right to exploit the wildlife is unclear. Sure, all people need some form of protein, yet millions have found a satisfying and healthful way to eat that doesn’t involve preying on others. And they don’t seem to understand that dead is dead and it doesn’t matter to the victim whether their killer eats every part of them or just sticks their head on a wall.

Call: Often overheard uttering feeble catch-words like “management,” “sustainability,” “population control” or “invasive species.” Unfortunately, they never think to apply those same concepts to the species, Homo sapiens.


3) Trophy Hunters   

This group can be confused with other “sportsmen,” but though both types are clearly in1383480_10151726970777825_1974489269_n it for the fun, trophy hunters are obsessed with every aspect of the so-called sport. These are the kind of people who hold “contest hunts” on anything seen as competition, yet ironically are intent on recruiting more hunters, including women and young people, encouraging them to take up the “sport.” Although their professed enemies are predators like wolves and mountain lions, their most dreaded foe are the anti-hunters.

The trophy hunters’ fixation with horn curl or antler spread is in fact causing a reversal of evolution in the species whose heads they covet.

Breeding plumage: Camouflage from head to tail; flashy orange vest. Mates primarily with themselves.


4) Sadists  

1384140_564330240283396_857016214_nThis category includes bow-hunters, trappers and wolf hunters. Often seen on reality T.V.  shows or in homemade snuff-film videos on U-Tube. Hunters who consider themselves in one of the other categories would do well to self-police their kind, lest normal people (non-hunters) think all hunters are sadists who enjoy the act of killing and are turned on by watching animals suffer and struggle under their power.

Habitat: Disgusting personal websites or Facebook pages where they parade around in camo, showing off their evil deeds for anyone who’ll give them the time of day.


5) “Ethical” Hunters

This is the category that virtually all hunters want to be included in. Unfortunately, the phrase “ethical hunter” is an oxymoron, like “humane slaughter,” “virgin mother,” “fair chase,” “free-range poultry” or “friendly neighborhood serial killer.” As withSmalfut UFOs, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster, no one has ever been able to locate one of these mythical phantoms.

Spoor: This make-believe subspecies leaves no tracks or scat because, well, they’re fictitious. The only impression they make is in the minds of the easily influenced. There’s simply no way an animal-killer can be considered ethical, unless of course he gives up hunting.

Quebec hunters prevented from harvesting Labrador caribou

by Derek Montague
Published on April 22, 2014

Hunters were going after threatened Mealy Mountains herd: source

A group of Innu hunters from the Quebec North Shore were recently prevented from illegally hunting the threatened Mealy Mountains caribou herd in Labrador, according to a source.

A Labrador woodland caribou is shown. Some herds are considered threatened, such as the Mealy Mountains herd. — Photo courtesy of the provincial wildlife division

The 10 or so hunters were headed to the Birchy Lakes area, about 150 kilometres away from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, when wildlife officers stopped them.

The incident happened earlier this month.

Considered threatened

According to a 2009 publication from the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Mealy Mountains herd was estimated at just 2,500 animals and considered threatened under the provincial Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

Quebec hunters crossing the Labrador border to hunt caribou illegally is a problem that stretches back several years.

Back in 2007, two Quebec men from Pakua Shipi Innu were fined $18,000 each for killing caribou from the Mealy Mountains herd.

Serious problem

Former Labrador wildlife officer Hollis Yetman recalls how serious the problem was in the early 2000s, when caribou poaching near the Quebec-Labrador border was common.

“(The hunting) was significant. In 2003, there was endangered species legislation enacted and that was the catalyst for wildlife officers to have some strength and some backbone … that they could officially charge aboriginals for hunting these threatened caribou herds,” said Yetman.

Protected by wildlife officers

“If it wasn’t for a small, core group of wildlife officers that have had continuity protecting these herds for the past 10-15 years, I would say that the population would be far less than what they are now.”

Yetman is worried a few undetected hunts will be all that’s needed to decimate the Mealy Mountains herd and other woodland caribou.

“Basically, the Department of Justice keeps its eyes over these woodland caribou herds. Right now they’re doing a good job with their limited surveillance. (But) it only takes one or two undetected hunts by anyone and you will cause serious population problems with these herds,” said Yetman.

“The numbers are that sensitive.”

Yetman also feels that conservation efforts are also held up too much by the notion of aboriginal hunting rights.

“I think that the aboriginal right overshadows the need to protect these caribou a lot of the time,” said Yetman.

“The only thing keeping some of these caribou alive is the dedication of two or three of the wildlife officers who keep an eye on them.”

TC Media requested an interview with Justice Minister Darin King, but there was no response by press time, as government offices were closed Monday.

TC media was also been unsuccessful at reaching Pakua Shipi Chief Dennis Mestenapeo.

Killing of entire Alaska wolf pack upsets National Park Service…And Me!

Before admiring the “subsistence” lifestyle, think of wolves that the state of Alaska shoots from planes to provide “game” for their hunters…


by Nick Provenza

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Fish and Game officials killed an Eastern Interior wolf pack last week, and the National Park Service — which had been studying the animals — is none too pleased.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that all 11 wolves in the Lost Creek pack near Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve were shot. That included the pack’s alpha pair, which had been fitted with tracking collars as part of an ongoing research project.

Doug Vincent-Lang, acting director for the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation, says the wolves were in an area adjacent to the preserve that has been targeted by the state for aerial predator control, which is part of an effort to boost moose and caribou numbers.

But Yukon-Charley Superintendent Greg Dudgeon said the shootings are a setback for a long-term study of wolf behavior that began roughly 20 years ago. He said the Lost Creek pack had been monitored for the past seven years.

ALASKA… National Park Service and State Clash over the recent Wolf Pack Killing

An entire wolf pack was shot and killed by aerial gunning for the sole purpose of boosting moose and caribou numbers, discarding the fact that they were part of a twenty year study by NPS!

On Feb. 21, the state agency shot all 11 members of the Lost Creek pack near Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. That included the pack’s alpha pair, which had been fitted with park service collars as part of an ongoing research project.

Yukon-Charley Superintendent Greg Dudgeon said the shootings are a setback for a long-term study of wolf behavior that began roughly 20 years ago. He said the Lost Creek pack had been monitored for the past seven years as part of the study, which looks at wolf migration patterns, denning habits and population changes.

Alaska fully intends to continue it aerial killing of wolves, calling it Predator Control.



Kathy Dunn
Tourism Marketing Manager

Online Comment link…

Nuking Idaho is as Sick as What Hunters and Trappers Do

Occasionally I get comments that I don’t completely disagree with, but are clearly from troll hunters and therefore by their very nature not allowable here, as per the commenting policy and scope of this blog, spelled out in the “About” section:

Today I received just such a comment, which starts out, “I think the comment about the whole state being nuked is seriously sick and just equally sociopathic as the actions of the ‘idiot’ dominators who care more about the money the state will gain from big game hunting tags…” Ok, I can see where you’re coming from there–the act of nuking Idaho would be about as bad as what hunters and trappers there do.  Don’t worry, I don’t think that particular commenter was even remotely serious about actually nuking Idaho. But, to be fair to others whose comments have been removed, and to avoid anyone comparing her comment to something a hunter might say, I’ll remove it.

I’ve removed or disallowed plenty of comments from hunters. The difference being, they aren’t just blowing off steam. When they talk about killing animals, it’s for real. So hunters, please don’t waste time writing a comment that doesn’t get posted. As a rule, I remove any comments that talk about so-called “ethical” hunters killing animals “respectfully.” That said, because it includes a few kernels of truth, here’s the full text of a comment I received today:


“I think the comment about the whole state being nuked is seriously sick and just equally sociopathic as the actions of the “idiot” dominators who care more about the money the state will gain from big game hunting tags and the big game small penis hunters that need to show their bravado (which means lack of courage) by placing any animal on their wall in their home. Ethical hunters don’t need to do this, they hunt/kill to eat and they do it respectfully. But, in our sick greedy culture of monster trucks and steroidal men who learn at an early age (through abusive words and actions) to stuff their emotions for fear of becoming too much like a woman or even worse a gay man and likely go home from drinking with the good ole boys who have experienced the same young lives, to beat their wives…we are creating more to come in the future of our country and yes, particularly in Idaho.”


Of course, since human beings don’t have to kill and eat animals in order to survive, there is no such thing as an “ethical hunter,” and taking the life of a healthy animal can never really be considered “respectful.”



It’s All the Same To the Victim

Lately we’ve been hearing from a lot of holier-than-thou types quick to make a distinction between sport and subsistence hunters. Truth is, there’s not all that much difference between the two. Sport hunters and pseudo-subsistence hunters are often such close kin they’re practically kissin’ cousins. I know a lot of hunters, but I’ve never met one who didn’t boast about “using the meat.” By the same token, I’ve never met anyone who openly admitted to being just a sport hunter.

There are a lot of needy poor folk out there these day, including myself, but I don’t know anyone who really needs to kill animals to survive. Like sport hunters, subsistence hunters do what they do because they want to, they enjoy the “lifestyle.” If one thing differentiates the two, it’s that meat hunters have an even stronger sense of entitlement.

But, everyone has a right to feed themselves and their family, don’t they? Well, does everyone—all 7 billion humans and counting—have the right to subsist off the backs of other animals when there are more humane and sustainable ways to feed ourselves? How many self-proclaimed “subsistence” hunters are willing to give up all their modern conveniences—their warm house, their car, their cable TV or their ever-present and attendant “reality” film crew—and live completely off the land like a Neanderthal? Not many I’m sure—at least not indefinitely.

It’s unclear what makes some folks believe they have the right to exploit wildlife as an easy source of protein, but animal flesh is by no means the safest or healthiest way for humans to get it. While a steady diet of decaying meat slowly rots your system, millions of vibrant people have found a satisfying and healthy way to eat that doesn’t involve preying on others.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Living off the Land: another Excuse for Sport Hunting

Hunters often claim, “I’m not a sport hunter; I eat what I shoot,” as though the end (the act of consuming a carcass) justifies the means (the unnecessary killing of a wild animal).These people choose to live in areas where “game” is abundant, often because local wildlife agency policies have eliminated natural predators or favored one species of grazer over another. As ruralites, they pretend they are “living off the land,” practicing a pseudo-subsistence lifestyle. Whenever a person has all the modern conveniences at their disposal—a truck with GPS, a cell phone, a four-wheeler, a cooler full of beer and groceries and a warm house or shack to go home to—they aren’t really hunting to keep from starving, they are in fact just sport hunters in disguise. I should know, I was nearly sucked down that slippery slope once myself.

Years ago, I went through a brief live-like-an-Indian phase and enrolled in an “Aboriginal Life Skills” course— the same one that the author of “Clan of the Cave Bear” later took to learn how Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man may have lived. For me, it was not so much an anthropological study but more of a wilderness survival course.  Our final assignment:  a ten-day back-country excursion armed only with a blanket, a knife and an ample supply of biscuit roots and wild onions gathered prior to the expedition. Although our tribe of modern-day abos had plenty of the nutritious tubers to go around, much of our time was spent out hunting for animals to roast in the fire pit.

I carved a bow out of a young juniper tree and the class instructor lent me one of his blunt-tipped arrows. With this mighty weapon, I shot a harmless chipmunk. The arrow didn’t kill the poor soul outright, but knocked him to the ground, wounded and trembling. I had to finish him off with a club like some brutal character from a cave-man story. I was praised by the folks back in camp, but felt anything but pride for my feat.  The tiny morsel of chipmunk flesh was cooked in a rock oven, along with a porcupine the teacher’s assistant clubbed to death that same day.

We were taught how to tan animal skins using deer brains, fashion knives and arrowheads out of obsidian and build crude wooden shelters; but the main lesson I learned from the course was that we didn’t need to be slaying animals in order to survive. We were acting like a bunch of sport hunters out playing games at the expense of the resident wildlife.

The thing that brought that message home with clarity was when some of our group started baiting deadfall traps for the mink we occasionally saw along the banks of the river we fished. Mink meat is practically inedible, but their fur is quite a prize for those wanting a treasure to show off to others. Trapping the mink was not aiding our existence; it was another form of recreational carnage.

Ultimately, what I gleaned from the experience was something almost too taboo to suggest: I realized that even primitive societies must have had times when their relatively austere hunting practices provided them with far more resources than they ever needed for basic subsistence. They were no longer killing simply for survival; at some point humans started doing it with a motivation nearer to that of a sport or trophy hunter. (Only later did I discover that prehistoric man used fire to drive animals off cliffs, resulting in the annihilation of whole herds or the extinction of entire species.)

 Modern people who claim to want to “participate in nature,” but depend on technology at every turn to spare them any physical discomfort, are actually just sport hunters at heart. A bear lives off the land, chipmunks (except for the regulars at my bird feeder) live off the land, moose live off the land, but today’s hunters live off grocery stores and burger joints—sporadically supplementing their hoard with the spoils of their latest sport-disguised-as-subsistence hunt.