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Group sues to expand protected orca habitat in Northwest

The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Trump administration over the failure to protect the habitat of Southern Resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest.

With the Pacific Northwest's killer whales struggling, an environmental group is suing to force President Donald Trump's administration to expand protected habitat to help them recover.

The Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

It says the National Marine Fisheries Service has failed to act on the organization's petition to expand habitat protections to the orcas' foraging and migration areas off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California — even though the agency agreed in 2015 that such a move was necessary.

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The center says the protections would help reduce water pollution and restrict vessel traffic that can interfere with the animals.

Michael Milstein, a spokesman for the fisheries service, says the agency agrees protecting the endangered orcas that return to Puget Sound every year is an urgent priority.

Also see | Orca mom lets go of dead calf after 17 days and 1,000 miles

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