Canada's Killer Whale Relocation Bid in Limbo
Add Science - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Allan Dowd
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A plan to relocate a lost killer whale on Canada's Pacific coast was in limbo on Friday after objections by native Indians, who claim the animal holds the spirit of a dead chief.
The whale experts who traveled to Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island to help capture the orca, nicknamed Luna, were headed home and it was unclear if they would return, said Vancouver Aquarium spokeswoman Angela Nielsen.
"It's a wait and see situation," Nielsen said.
Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans halted the effort to reunify the whale with its family pod until it can reach an agreement with the natives.
The whale has become the focus of a circus-like tug-of-war between the scientists, who were using a boat to lure Luna to a pen, and members of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht Indians, who used canoes to lure the animal in the other direction.
Scientists have cited the whale's attraction to boats and float planes as the reason it needed to be relocated to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where its pod spends the summer.
The population of killer whales on the U.S.-Canada border is endangered and it is hoped the return of a young breeding male would help ensure their survival.
The whale was accidentally separated from its pod in 2001 and has been living alone in Nootka Sound. Experts believe the 1.8 ton whale is lonely and they worry it will be hurt or killed by a collision with a boat as it seeks human companionship.
The Mowachaht-Muchalaht natives believe the whale carries the spirit of a band chief who died a week before the animal arrived in their traditional territory. He had said he would return as a killer whale.
The natives want the whale left where it is, but say if it does have to be relocated it should be led down the ocean coast by canoe. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is about 200 km (130 miles) south of Nootka Sound.
Fisheries' officials said the native's plan was unworkable and want to use a specially equipped truck to carry the whale to the reunification area east of Victoria.
Officials suspended the capture effort on Thursday over concern the battle for the whale's attention was making it more comfortable with people. Department officials planned to meet with native leaders next week.
Ann Popplestone AAB, BA, MA
CCC Metro TLC
Brazil teen arrested in anthropologist's killing
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Police arrested a 17-year-old boy Wednesday and charged him with killing a prominent anthropologist last week in an Amazon state.
The suspect, whose name could not be disclosed because he is a minor, is accused of shooting Apoena Meireles, 55, during a robbery at a cash machine in Porto Velho, 1,680 miles (2,700 kilometers) northwest of Rio de Janeiro. Meireles, a former head of the federal Indian bureau, was an expert on the Cinta Larga Indians.
Police said the youth was a private-school student from a middle-class family. He allegedly told police he borrowed a gun and committed the robbery because he needed money.
The youth, who made off with 50 reals ($18) and a cellular phone, was identified by a federal Indian bureau employee who witnessed the crime, police said.
Police said an anonymous tip led them to the youth.
Meireles, who was the first anthropologist to contact the Cinta Larga Indians in the late 1960s, had been called out of retirement in April, after the tribe massacred 29 people illegally mining for diamonds on their reservation.
Meireles was working with a federal task force to shut down the mining operations when he was killed.
Police said Wednesday's arrest seemed to rule out the possibility that Meireles' was killed in reprisal for his work with the task force.
Mining on the Roosevelt Indian reservation is believed to involve powerful economic interests. Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry estimates some $2 billion worth of diamonds have been smuggled off the reservation over the past four years.
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.