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Orcas to get police protection

| Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 9:15 p.m.
On July 18, 2013, an orca whale breaches as the pod swims through Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, Wash. Killer whales that spend their summers in Puget Sound are a distinct population group and will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday. The ruling was the result of a petition to de-list the whales on behalf of California farmers who faced water restrictions to protect salmon the Orcas eat. (AP Photo/Kitsap Sun, Meegan M. Reid, file)

SEATTLE — Washington state is getting a new officer — one who will protect and serve killer whales.

Federal funds will allow the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to hire an officer to enforce laws protecting Puget Sound orcas.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says the department will use the $925,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to hire the enforcement officer for three years.

The killer whale cop is expected to spend 500 hours a summer on marine patrols, investigating violations and working with other federal or Canadian agencies and community groups.

The officer will make sure boaters stay at least 200 yards away from the orcas. They have been listed as an endangered species since 2005, and NOAA turned down a petition on Friday to delist them.

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