Sanctuary For Seals — Navy A-6S Should Stop Bombing Sea Lion Rocks

Editorials & Opinion: Saturday, August 03, 1991



I would like to offer another way for the Navy to improve its public relations in response to Patrick Pilcher’s July 23 op-ed piece on why the Blue Angels should not fly at Seafair. Stop using Sea Lion Rocks within the Copalis Wildlife Refuge off Washington’s wilderness coastline for aerial target practice.

These islands have been recognized for their wildlife value since 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt established them within a refuge. However, the Navy was given permission to bomb five islands by the secretary of interior during World War II.

In 1949, the Navy was granted use of Sea Lion Rocks only. When the Navy wanted to expand its Olympic Military Operating Area in 1978, the Fish and Wildlife Service was unaware the Navy still bombed the islands.

Since that time, the Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with numerous conservation organizations, have tried to stop the needless harassment of bird and mammal populations.

The Whidbey-based A-6 bombers fly at 500 miles an hour at just 500 feet above their targets, causing major disturbances on surrounding islands as well.

A wildlife biologist from the Fish and Wildlife Service has observed the complete abandonment of neighboring Split and Willoughby Islands by their once-abundant cormorant and murre colonies.

The perfect vehicle for instilling a regulation on the Navy is before us with the Outer Coast National Marine Sanctuary. However, it will be up to the leadership of our congressional representatives to see that the regulations are adequate to protect a coastline like no other in the world. – Fred Felleman, Seattle; conservation biologist, American Oceans Campaign

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

~ by fredfelleman on August 3, 1991.

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