A Beluga Whale
Some great news, and a slap in the face to Sarah Palin. The New York Times reports:
The federal government on Friday placed beluga whales that live in Alaska’s Cook Inlet on the endangered species list, rejecting efforts by Gov. Sarah Palin to keep the whales from coming under the increased protections.And why is Governor Palin opposed to Belugas? Wanna guess?
The relatively small, whitish whales, sometimes visible from downtown Anchorage in the inlet’s silvery water, declined by almost 50 percent during the late 1990’s, and federal scientists say they have not rebounded despite protections that included limiting subsistence hunting by Native Alaskans. About 375 whales have been counted in Cook Inlet each of the last two years, according to scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering," James Balsiger, an acting assistant administrator in charge of the agency’s fisheries programs, said in a written statement announcing that the whales were in danger of extinction.
The announcement, whose timing was tied to a predetermined schedule under the Endangered Species Act, drew attention once again to Ms. Palin’s positions on environmental issues. The governor, the Republican nominee for vice president, has come under scrutiny for her ambiguous statements about climate change and her administration’s effort to prevent another species, the polar bear, from being declared a threatened species.
As with the polar bear, Ms. Palin’s administration had fought the beluga listing because of its potential to restrict coastal and offshore oil and gas development. The beluga listing also could affect a proposed bridge over Knik Arm that would connect Anchorage to the Matanuska-Valley and Ms. Palin’s hometown of Wasilla.Arrgh.
And here's an appropriate way to celebrate: