SEAWOLF RECEIVES RESPONSE FROM WA STATE RE: ORCA LISTING REQUEST, August 28, 2001

SeaWolf has received a response from the WA State Fish & Wildlife Department to our request for a state uplisting to parallel the current federal ESA process.

A text reproduction of this letters is reproduced at the bottom of this email.

We are pleased to see the State Wildlife Department being willing to share the effort, but concerned that some state-specific impacts under a federal ESA listing will not be emphasised. We are also concerned about the timeline , once again (earliest action, May 2003).

The state has more local resources to respond to an action plan than NMFS will after 2003; we would like to see some more encouragement of early state response, through the legislature perhaps, to this matter. In the next few weeks, we will review some local options and present them to this forum -- and certainly hope others will share their thoughts as well.

Text of the State's letter follows...

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August 15, 2001

Mr. A. Michael Kundu
Board of Directors, Project SeaWolf
P.O.Box 929
Marysville, WA 98270-0929

Dear Mr. Kundu:

This letter is in response to your recent request that the southern resident Orca population immediately be considered for re-classification and uplisting in Washington. The orca is currently a state candidate species, which means that it will be reviewed for possible listing as endangered, threatened, or sensitive. As you may be aware, under the department's listing procedures (WAC 232-12-297 enclosed) in order to reclassify the orca in Washington we would need to conduct a status review. We are aware that NMFS has been petitioned to list the southern resident killer whale under the federal ESA by the Center for Biological Diversity and a coalition of groups, including Project SeaWolf.

The NMFS has announced that it has accepted the petition and will begin a formal status review of the southern resident orca population for possible listing under the ESA. We understand that this review will be completed within a year, and a final determination would be likely by May 2003. We have been in contact with NMFS and have expressed a strong interest to partner with them in such a review. As co-managers, we will participate with NMFS and the tribes in NMFS Co-Manager's forum process. We will provide technical information and advice from the state's perspective during this process.

The Department has a great interest in the status of the orca (as mentioned above - a Washington State candidate species). We feel it would be the best use of resources if we were to partner with respective co-managers during the NMFS biological review process. In this way, we will not duplicate efforts and we will be able to use the information produced during the review as a basis for the state's status review of the orca population in Washington. Thank you for the copy of the petition and also for your interest in this icon of Washington.

Sincerely,

Dave Brittell, Assistant Director
Wildlife Program
cc. Joe Scordino, NMFS
Steve Stone, NMFS
WA Fish & Wildlife Commission
Jeff Koenings, WDFW
Rocky Beach, WDFW
John Pierce, WDFW

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