Orcas at 30-year low

With the number of endangered Puget Sound orcas at a 30-year low, Washington state lawmakers are proposing measures to protect the fish-eating killer whales that spend time in the inland waters of the Salish Sea.

The bills include boosting hatchery salmon production to increasing marine boat patrols around the whales.

Many have been sounding the alarm about the orcas' plight since the September death of a juvenile brought the population to 76. Orcas face including lack of food, toxic contamination and noise from vessels.

A baby orca has not been born in the last few years. And last year, the orcas spent the fewest number of days in the central Salish Sea in more than four decades.

Gov. Jay Inslee's supplemental budget also devotes $3 million to help the whales by increasing vessel enforcement, improving salmon habitat and increasing salmon hatchery production.

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