Makah leader says whaling treaty right has been delayed

Neah Bay, Washington (AP) 1-08

Makah tribal leader Micah McCarty says the system has been abused to deprive the Indians of a treaty right to kill gray whales, but they hope to resume hunting next year or early 2010.

McCarty says some tribal members are increasingly frustrated at court challenges from environmental and animal rights groups that have delayed federal approval.

The tribe resumed traditional whaling in 1999 and killed one whale. Hunting was halted after opponents won a court order requiring the tribe to obtain a waiver from the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, Brian Gorman, says it’s a slow and deliberate process with lots of steps along the way. A scientist with the Humane Society of the United States, Naomi Rose, says it’s ready to bring a legal challenge if the government doesn’t go through all the motions properly.

Five tribal members who couldn’t wait and killed a whale last fall without a permit have been charged in tribal and federal court.