An endangered southern resident female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Whale and Dolphin Conservation filed a petition Thursday aiming to protect southern resident orcas under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.

“Southern resident orcas are icons of the Pacific Northwest, yet Oregon has lingered on the sidelines of recovery efforts,” said Quinn Read, Oregon policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time for Oregon to step up and acknowledge its critical role in saving these incredible orcas and the Chinook salmon they depend on for survival.”

Southern resident orcas are currently listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, but state listing would require the development of a state endangered species management plan. The Center for Biological Diversity said this would spur coordination among state agencies and would lead to the development of concrete actions to address threats to orcas in Oregon.

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