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 to hire the enforcement officer for three years.
The killer whale cop is expected to spend 500 hours a summer doing marine patrols, investigating violations, and working with other federal or Canadian agencies and community groups. The officer will make sure whale watchers are at a proper distance.
The money from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also will help educate people about the Puget Sound killer whale population.
About 85 of the big black-and-white marine mammals are considered residents. They feed on Chinook salmon, and have been listed as endangered since 2005. Boaters must stay at least 200 yards away.