SEATTLE -- The federal government is reviewing whether Puget Sound orcas should keep their endangered status.
NOAA Fisheries said Monday the review was prompted by a petition from the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation seeking to delist the killer whales. The petition asserts that orcas aren't in danger of becoming extinct because they're part of a larger population of thriving whales.
NOAA listed southern resident killer whales as endangered in 2005. The orcas frequent Washington's Puget Sound. They also spend time in the open ocean. There are currently 86.
The agency has a year to decide whether it should delist the orcas. It says accepting the petition does not suggest a proposal to delist will follow.
The petition was filed in August on behalf of two California farms and the Center for Environmental Science Accuracy and Reliability.
The Center for Biological Diversity says the orcas are still endangered and should be protected.