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Legal Petition Seeks to Halt Federally Authorized Harm to Last of Alaska’s Cook Inlet Beluga Whales

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Investigation Agency, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, and Cook Inletkeeper submitted a legal petition today demanding that the Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service stop issuing “take” authorizations to oil companies and others to harm and harass Cook Inlet beluga whales in Alaska.

This critically endangered beluga subpopulation has declined more than 75% since 1970. Scientists estimate that there are only 279 individuals left. Experts have warned that if the Cook Inlet beluga population drops to 200 individuals, it may cross a critical threshold where small population dynamics will prevent recovery.

Although a recovery plan for Cook Inlet belugas was drafted five years ago, the federal government has continued to authorize an exceedingly high number of “take” permits allowing unjustifiable harassment to belugas from a wide range of activities throughout Cook Inlet. “Take” prohibited by federal law includes actions that disrupt behavioral patterns, including migration, breathing, breeding or feeding.

Read more.

Media Contacts:

Endangered Species: James Quirk, Media Specialist –, (908) 902-3177
Climate: Nyshie Perkinson, Media Specialist –, (718) 928-5148
Public Lands, National Monuments and Borderlands:
Mary K. Reinhart, Media Specialist –, (602) 320-7309
Oceans, Offshore Drilling, Arctic: Patrick Sullivan, Media Director –, (415) 632-5316
Pesticides, Toxics, Air Pollution, Industrial Agriculture and Environmental Health: Andy Parker, Media Specialist –, (503) 310-5569
Population and Sustainability: Kim Dinan, Media Specialist –, (513)535-1306
Urban Wildlands, Government Affairs: Wendy Leung, Senior Media Specialist, (818) 625-3128

Patrick Sullivan, Media Director,, (415) 632-5316
Russ McSpadden, Creative Media Specialist – Media Photos,

Banner photo Center for Biological Diversity; photo of jaguar by Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity