Gov. Dan Evans, State Attorney General Slade Gorton, and Ralph Munro, a staff aide to Evans who would later go on to be the secretary of state, were integral figures in ending the capture era. The three joined us for a live discussion.

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Orca captures were legal in Washington state for more than a decade until the intervention in 1976 of three key state officials: Gov. Dan Evans, State Attorney General Slade Gorton and Ralph Munro, a staff aide to Evans at the time who would later go on to become Secretary of State.

All Republicans, they acted to stop the capture of orcas in Budd Inlet, going all the way to federal court. They extracted a settlement agreement from SeaWorld to never again capture whales in Washington waters. And the orcas caught in Budd Inlet were freed. Their bold actions marked a turning point in Washington history.

Evans, Gorton and Munro gathered in The Seattle Times studio to discuss shutting down orca captures forever in a panel discussion with Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes. We answered your own questions about the capture era, and their work to stop it.


From left, Ralph Munro, State Attorney General Slade Gorton, Gov. Dan Evans. They talked with reporter Lynda Mapes for a panel discussion about orcas Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at The Seattle Times.  (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)
From left, Ralph Munro, State Attorney General Slade Gorton, Gov. Dan Evans. They talked with reporter Lynda Mapes for a panel discussion about orcas Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at The Seattle Times. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Dan Evans was a three-term governor of Washington and later was a U.S. senator. His political career began in 1956, when he was elected to the state House of Representatives. In November 1964, Evans unseated two-term Gov. Al Rosellini. In September 1983, he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by the death of Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson. Two months later, he won a special election to complete the remaining five years of Jackson’s term. In October 1987, he announced that he would not be a candidate for re-election.

Slade Gorton served three terms as a U.S. Senator, three as state attorney general, and 10 years as a representative in the state Legislature. He moved to Seattle in 1953 and won his first seat in the state House in 1958. In 1967, he became the House majority leader. He was elected state attorney general in 1968 and held that post until 1980, when he defeated six-term Sen. Warren Magnuson. He was defeated in 2000.

Ralph Munro was the 13th Secretary of the State of Washington. First elected in 1980, he served five terms. Munro was born in 1943 in Seattle and grew up on Bainbridge Island. He is a graduate of Western Washington University, holding a bachelor’s degree in education and political science. Munro’s first job with the state was as a supply clerk working in the basement of the Capitol building.