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https://www.adn.com/alaska-new...was-shot-by-hunters/

Villagers recover whale carcass from the Kuskokwim River after it was killed by hunters

Author: Lisa Demer Updated: 4 hours ago Published 2 days ago

A whale that made an unusual trip into freshwater then was shot Thursday by hunters on the Kuskokwim River finally was pulled onto shore Saturday, said a tribal leader in the village of Napaskiak.

The whale carcass was being measured and residents on Saturday evening were making their first cuts into it, said Chris Larson, honorary tribal chief in Napaskiak.

"The whole village is here," said tribal administrator Sharon Williams, one of hundreds of people who gathered at the village airport, where the whale ended up.

They expect that the meat will be good, Larson said.

"It's not going to go to waste," he said.

The whale sank Thursday into the river, to the dismay of hunters working from aluminum skiffs and those watching from other boats. Retrieving it was a challenge. Ropes and harpoons not designed for such a big animal repeatedly gave way.

The men weren't from traditional whaling communities and also had trouble killing it, said Rita Joekay of Napaskiak, one of those watching from a boat.

While Napaskiak residents are marveling at the whale that came to them, federal authorities looking into how it was killed.

The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has authority to protect whales. Officials said Friday that the agency is investigating the shooting.

The species of whale that was shot hasn't been confirmed. Belugas, which can be hunted by Alaska Natives, are more typically the type of whale that swims up a river, NOAA says. Locals say they at first thought it was a beluga, but after some videos and pictures were posted on Facebook some people changed their best guess to a gray whale.

The only large whale allowed to be hunted in Alaska are bowheads, and those hunts are restricted to 11 northern communities that are part of an international quota system. Napaskiak, like other villages on the Kuskokwim, isn't part of that.

On Friday night, villagers with newly fashioned grappling hooks snagged the whale. They gradually towed it to Napaskiak and on Saturday hefted it on shore at the airport, first with manpower and then with a bulldozer that dragged it the rest of the way, Larson said.

Hundreds of people were watching the scene. People from other villages and Bethel came to help, he said.

On Thursday, word of the whale in the Kuskokwim spread by mouth and text message. In the end, maybe 50 boats gathered, most of them filled with people who just wanted to watch, said Larson, 73. He went with his wife and grandson for what he called a "once in a lifetime thing." Decades ago, a beluga, or maybe a pod of them, swam up the Kuskokwim, according to legend. But a whale in the river is highly unusual.

People along the Kuskokwim who saw the whale, or heard about it, had very different reactions to the animal — and to the shooting. Some thought people should have simply enjoyed watching it. Some thought the hunters weren't properly equipped to take such a big animal. Others saw the whale as food.

A Bethel Native leader, Beverly Hoffman, posted on Facebook: "I thought we would all line up on the seawall to observe this occurrence. I know it's a source of food but really it saddened me to hear not only that it was killed but it wasn't harvested."

The whale traveled some 60 river miles from the Bering Sea up the Kuskokwim — nearly to Bethel.

While rare for the Kuskokwim, "there have been numerous cases where whales have made forays unto freshwater for a short period of time," said NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle.

Joekay and her husband first saw it mid-afternoon Thursday during a boat trip from Napaskiak to Bethel upriver, where they were going to buy baking supplies.

It was swimming in the river, and exciting to see, Joekay said.

A few other people saw it too, near what's called Nick-O-Nick fish camp.

Gradually a crowd of boaters gathered.

"There were some people from Bethel. There were some people from Oscarville. Even tundra villages and even downriver people," Larson said. "So it was not only Napaskiak people."

In the village, residents heard gunshots. Joekay and her husband, back from their shopping trip in Bethel, collected five of their children to see the whale. By now the whale and the boaters were downriver from Napaskiak.

Hunters were standing up in their boats, firing rifles at the whale. The scene was disturbing as it went on and on, Joekay said. Another boater said he had to maneuver away from the line of fire.

"They are shooting it and shooting it and shooting it forever," Joekay said. "Finally it stopped moving."

A video appears to show blood in the water and blood spouting from the whale's blowhole.

Then the whale sank.

"I am still thinking about the whale right now," Joekay said Friday morning.

When it sunk, "people were not as excited as they were an hour ago," Larson said.

The tribal council met Friday morning to figure out what to do. Tribal administrator Sharon Williams said she contacted nearby villages and Bethel for help.

A wandering walrus a few years ago was taken near the village — and now this big animal, Larson said.

The men used high-powered rifles, shotguns and harpoons, similar to what they are used to doing to hunt seal. During the effort to drag it to shore, the ropes to the harpoons broke, he said.

Larson said the animal's killing came as villagers longed for food following this summer's fishing restrictions during the king salmon run.

"I'll tell you this much. We have not been fishing all summer. I only got six king salmon," Larson said, describing how he gave away three of them. "People are hungry. They want food. They want subsistence food. Anything that comes up in this river is food."

Alex Joekay of Oscarville, Rita Joekay's brother-in-law, also boated over to investigate whether there really was a whale in the Kuskokwim. He suspected a seal. He was thrilled to see the big animal.

"I guess it offered itself to the Kuskokwim River people," said Alex Joekay, repeating a teaching of elders.

Last year, hunters from Toksook Bay killed an endangered humpback whale. NOAA's office of law enforcement sent letters to Toksook Bay and nearby Nightmute explaining the protections for and rules on whales.
 
Posts: 12069 | Location: Eastern Iowa | Registered: May 21, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Don't burn
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Sounds like a huge cluster fuck, the description of the kill is a bit unsettling.
 
Posts: 1695 | Location: South central Ma.  | Registered: December 05, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If it was illegally taken, the hunters are f'd.


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Posts: 6608 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Meh, at least they ate it. Glad they got some healthy food.
 
Posts: 898 | Registered: August 01, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by 229DAK:
If it was illegally taken, the hunters are f'd.


You really think so? It's not like this is a village of whites. Perhaps they'll get treated to the same harshly worded letter as the last tribe.

quote:
Last year, hunters from Toksook Bay killed an endangered humpback whale. NOAA's office of law enforcement sent letters to Toksook Bay and nearby Nightmute explaining the protections for and rules on whales



[i]
 
Posts: 4875 | Location: Utah | Registered: December 18, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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'Tribal leader'? That's all I need to know.

A buddy was hunting in Canada 15+/- yrs ago. The native he was with was shooting seals or walruses with his rifle, then letting them lay. My buddy told him he was out of there if it continued.

They shoot all kinds of chit.
 
Posts: 2902 | Location: WI | Registered: February 29, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I recall from years ago that certain native people are allowed to kill a limited number of whales each year, part of their culture, etc. They always eat what they get. And as I recall they killed the whales with rifles, too.

Granted, not the most humane way to kill a whale, but a lot of whales are killed each year by explosive harpoons and other means. An animal that large is not easy to kill.

Not trying to justify the action in the OP, just explaining some facts.


Elk

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Posts: 21956 | Location: Virginia | Registered: December 16, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Recall a WA tribe found a clause in their treaty that let them take whales. Lots of back and forth, courts and international stuff. There was also how many whales the could harpoon compared to how many were brought to shore.
When the hunt came, there were scout boats finding whales. The hunters were towed out, stuck the harpoon on in and then the whale was shot with what was discribed as "two finishing shots from a .50-caliber armor-piercing assault rifle." Given, they had stopped whaling in the early part of the last century.
The "traditional" part was to paddle a bit, stick two harpoons in and then guns and power took over. Then there was "official support from the Clinton Administration and a $310,000 grant from the Commerce Department."
http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05...e-kills-a-whale.html



“The best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful.”
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Posts: 4561 | Location: Outside Seattle | Registered: November 29, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Former Alaska resident here who has met with whaling captains on the North Slope as part of oil & gas permitting. I've also been out on a "photo safari" with one of the whaling captains on his whaling boat and photographed two polar bear families. That village and captain takes their whale with a harpoon shot out of a pressurize launcher (i.e. they don't throw the harpoon like the traditional way).

To expand on what the article stated, only specified villages and registered whaling captains may take a bowhead whale. Each of the designated villages has a limit. Additionally, only the bowhead whale is permitted (others have not been permitted in 20 years).


I have my doubts that the shooters (they're not hunters) will be prosecuted by the State of Alaska as Alaska has two sets of rules - one for natives and one for everyone else, It's way too common for natives not to be prosecuted by the state for even serious crimes such as rape, kidnapping, and grand theft. Hard to imagine they'll prosecute for a whale that will claim to be destined to die in fresh water, and village elders are already complaining about not being able to subsist on salmon.

IMO, the most likely route of prosecution would be Federal.



Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity

DISCLAIMER: These are the author's own personal views and do not represent the views of the author's employer.
 
Posts: 14223 | Location: N. Houston, TX | Registered: November 14, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Much ado about nothing as far as I'm concerned. They killed an animal, and now they're going to eat it. They have a more legitimate need than most hunters. I've always thought it was weird how most Americans get so hung up on how some animals are appropriate for food, while losing their minds thinking about eating other animals.



"I'll tell you this much. We have not been fishing all summer. I only got six king salmon," Larson said, describing how he gave away three of them. "People are hungry. They want food. They want subsistence food. Anything that comes up in this river is food." - Sounds to me like they're hungry, probably due to government over regulation that happens to hit them harder than the people it was designed to restrict. Killing food for your own subsistence should not be regulatable in any way, shape, or form.

My dad was part of a large family, and his dad died when he was little. They were dirt poor. If he or his older brother didn't kill it, their family didn't get to eat meat. They ate a whole lot of things that I've had the luxury of never being forced to try, but for them it was necessity.

The only criminal act I see here is on the part of the government trying to tell them they can't do what they need to survive.




"Stupid people proliferate because this world has been made safe enough they survive long enough to procreate."

"The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said Ford, "it is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them. They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards."
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard, then the wrong lizard might get in."
 
Posts: 2098 | Location: Two blocks from the Center of the Universe | Registered: December 30, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"The only criminal act I see here is on the part of the government trying to tell them they can't do what they need to survive."

Yep




 
Posts: 20385 | Location: Young American Teen Club | Registered: January 30, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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https://www.adn.com/alaska-new...ied-as-a-gray-whale/

NOAA investigates killing of gray whale in Kuskokwim River

Author: Lisa Demer Updated: 7 hours ago Published 1 day ago

BETHEL — The whale hunted and killed on the Kuskokwim River Thursday was identified by federal authorities as a large gray whale.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration biologist in Juneau identified it through a photo, Julie Speegle, a NOAA spokeswoman, said Monday.

Gray whales are protected and aren't allowed to be hunted by anyone in Alaska. NOAA is investigating the shooting of the animal in the river near the village of Napaskiak. It had traveled some 60 miles into the river from the Bering Sea.

Some local residents said they had originally thought it was a much smaller beluga whale, which can be hunted by Alaska Natives under federal law.

Gray whales are sometimes called California gray whales and are the object of wide-scale whale watching off the coasts of California and Mexico's Baja California. The population of gray whales in the eastern part of the North Pacific Ocean — including the Bering Sea — is considered healthy and as of 1994, was no longer considered endangered, according to NOAA. But in the Atlantic Ocean, gray whales are extinct. In the western part of the North Pacific, off the coast of Asia, they are "critically endangered," according to NOAA.

No Native communities in Alaska have authority to hunt gray whales. The only legal hunts of large whales in U.S. waters are those by 11 northern Alaska communities that have permission to hunt bowhead whales.

The International Whaling Commission set a quota for Native people in Washington state and Chukotka in the Russian Far East to take limited numbers of gray whales. But unlike the situation with bowheads and Alaska whaling communities, the federal government doesn't have an agreement with the Makah tribe in Washington state to allow hunts of gray whale, Speegle said.

The matter has been in court for years. When a group of Makah tribal members hunted a gray whale anyway in 2007, tribal leaders and Washington's governor condemned it.

Gray whales have among the longest migration paths of any mammal, making a 9,000-plus-mile round trip every year from summer feeding grounds in the Chukchi, Beaufort and Bering seas to wintering areas mainly off the Baja California Peninsula.

In 1988, three gray whales that became trapped in pack ice near Point Barrow in Alaska became the subject of an international rescue effort and eventually the movie "Big Miracle."
 
Posts: 12069 | Location: Eastern Iowa | Registered: May 21, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Remember how we hate it when the Coastal Elites tell us how to live? I suspect the natives up there feel the same about all of us down here.
 
Posts: 6247 | Location: The Red part of Minnesota | Registered: October 06, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by MNSIG:
Remember how we hate it when the Coastal Elites tell us how to live? I suspect the natives up there feel the same about all of us down here.


You have a good point, but would your reply be the same if some New Orleans good old boys killed a manatee with 22s?

There are several issues here, one of which is using "not enough gun" to kill the whale. Another is native Alsakans who scream "it's our culture" when it fits their purpose but have no problem using motorboats to hunt.

FWIW, I do not hunt. I let others kill my meat for me.
 
Posts: 12069 | Location: Eastern Iowa | Registered: May 21, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Sigmund:
quote:
Originally posted by MNSIG:
Remember how we hate it when the Coastal Elites tell us how to live? I suspect the natives up there feel the same about all of us down here.


You have a good point, but would your reply be the same if some New Orleans good old boys killed a manatee with 22s?


Depends on the circumstances. If it was a couple of rednecks just killing it to see it die, no I wouldn't approve. Some poor backwoods family killing and eating something I don't have a problem with it. My grandfather talked about living through the Depression by "hunting" all kinds of game with a .22.
 
Posts: 6247 | Location: The Red part of Minnesota | Registered: October 06, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I really doubt that ANY of the tribal people up there can differentiate between the different types of whales. They just knew that there was a whale nearby and they were hungry...


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Posts: 2644 | Location: East Tennessee | Registered: August 21, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There are several issues here, one of which is using "not enough gun" to kill the whale.


Folks who are on subsistence living generally don't have the best equipment. Just curious, how big a gun is required to take a whale? Something more than a what, a 50BMG?


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Corgis Rock
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quote:
Originally posted by jbcummings:
quote:
There are several issues here, one of which is using "not enough gun" to kill the whale.


Folks who are on subsistence living generally don't have the best equipment. Just curious, how big a gun is required to take a whale? Something more than a what, a 50BMG?


The legal Makah hunt used a .50 caliber rifle. Several shots. All the "traditional" stuff went out the window. Speedboats scouted for the whales, their canoe was towed out. Once the strike was made the guns came out. The the whale was towed in.

I knew a master wood carver that had live with the tribe. He had an old harpoon head and asked me to make a blade for it. The head was two pieces of bone and mounted on a heavy shaft. The blade was ground slate. Harphooning was up close and personal.



“The best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful.”
― H.L. Mencken
 
Posts: 4561 | Location: Outside Seattle | Registered: November 29, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by SBrooks:
I really doubt that ANY of the tribal people up there can differentiate between the different types of whales. They just knew that there was a whale nearby and they were hungry...
Have you even looked at a picture of a beluga whale (ie the only whale that can legally be taken in Alaska but not by this village)? It's easy for someone from a coastal village in Alaska to differentiate (remember, I've actually know Alaskan natives), but as I'll show in the following pictures it's so easy someone from Tennessee could do it.

Beluga are really easy to distinguish from other whale as they have a huge bulb on their forehead:


Gray whale (ie the one they illegally killed):



Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity

DISCLAIMER: These are the author's own personal views and do not represent the views of the author's employer.
 
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