Orca Whales, Environmental Regulation, Pacific Northwest, Rivers, Dams, Chinook Salmon


State and federal government entities have made great strides in environmental protection since the inception of the Environmental Protection Agency and the enactment of major environmental regulations. However, species worldwide continue to face threats of extinction due to human activity and climate change without prompt, major intervention. In Washington state, the iconic Southern Resident Killer Whale has seen a dramatic decrease in population since the 1960s. Protections directed for their benefit have not provided the expected return as the main challenges Southern Residents face remain largely unresolved. To restore the Southern Residents’ population for future generations, their entire ecosystem must thrive – meaning we must ensure the killer whales have non-toxic waters and can prey upon a sufficient supply of Chinook Salmon, another federally protected species. Washington state has adjusted its environmental regulations over the years and recently dedicated a task force to study the continuous issue of Orca recovery. Therefore, political leaders’ efforts would be best spent on the removal of dams that restrict the Snake River and the Columbia River, helping bolster a holistic approach to reviving and restoring ecosystems that will benefit the Southern Resident Killer Whale’s survival.