U.S. won't prosecute Alaskans for gray whale kill

This image, from video provided by Paul Smith II, shows locals gathered around a whale in the Kuskokwim River in 2017.
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ANCHORAGE (AP) - Native hunters in Alaska will not be prosecuted after they used harpoons and guns last year to kill a protected gray whale that strayed from the Bering Sea.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials launched an investigation into the unauthorized July 2017 kill after the massive animal strayed into the Kuskokwim River near the Yup'ik village of Napaskiak.

The 37-foot whale was cut up for distribution among Alaska Natives in several villages.

The agency says in a statement provided to The Associated Press that three compliance assistance letters advised villages about the law and limits to subsistence whaling.

The agency declined comment on which villages received the letters.

Gray whales are off limits to Alaska hunters, including Alaska Natives.

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