TACOMA, Wash., March 28 (UPI) -- Three Native American whalers pleaded guilty in Tacoma, Wash., federal court Friday to charges of unlawfully harpooning a gray whale.
The U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement that the two co-defendants deemed to be more culpable in the unauthorized whale hunt would go to trial.
Guilty pleas to the misdemeanor charges were entered by Frankie Gonzalez, Theron Parker and William Secor. Prosecutors will recommend probation and community service when they are sentenced on June 6.
The other two defendants, Wayne Johnson and Andrew Knoll, will stand trial April 8.
The Coast Guard picked up the five members of the Makah Tribe last fall after they harpooned a gray whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and then shot it several times.
The Makah are a traditional whaling tribe; however, they have not been able to obtain a permit to harvest a whale since 1999. The Seattle Times said the unauthorized foray angered wildlife activists who have vowed to try to block any future hunts.