Federal government continues probe into whale kill; decision at least ‘another two weeks’

The National Marine Fisheries Service is continuing its investigation of the Sept. 8 killing of a gray whale by five Makah tribal members – and no decision on whether to press charges is imminent.

“We’re still investigating, there’s nothing new,” said Fisheries Service spokesman Mark Oswell on Monday..

“It probably will be another two weeks before we know anything at all,”

The five – Wayne Johnson, Theron Parker, Andy Noel, Bill Secor Sr. and Frank Gonzales Jr. – are under investigation by the Fisheries Service for harpooning and shooting a gray whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The tribe has been working toward a waiver from the act so it can use its 1855 treaty right to hunt whales on a subsistence basis.

Federal authorities arrested the five on the water Sept. 8 and turned them over to Makah tribal authorities.

Each man posted $250 bail and remains free while the tribe considers charges under the Makah judicial system.

Micah McCarty, a member of the Makah Tribal Council, said a conference call among tribal officials is set for today.

He said the call could lead to a decision whether the five in the unauthorized hunt will be charged, he said.

“There’s a lot of work to do still,” McCarty said.

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