More Fall 2001 Otter Updates
are Now Legally Free to Roam
The lawsuit would have forced the Fish and Wildlife Service to resume transporting sea otters from the "no otter zone" between Point Conception to the Channel Islands, a practice started in 1986 that environmentalists and wildlife biologists have long criticized as fatal to the otters. Terre Hawkins, a Santa Barbara sea urchin fisherman, states the fear that the state's commercial fishery for invertebrates such as mussels, abalone and sea urchins-worth more than $31 million-could be decimated within two years by otters if they are free to move into the area. However an approximate 10% decline in the sea otter population over the last five years has federal wildlife officials concerned the only way for the species to recover from a threatened population is to stop the relocation efforts and allow the otters to naturally expand southward.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service expects to issue a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in the winter of 2002. It plans to complete its final decision by December, 2002. In agreeing to dismiss its lawsuit, CFSB reserves the right to challenge the Fish and Wildlife Service's final decision whether the translocation program should be modified or terminated completely.
Reported in Florida
"Otters usually are not aggressive, they're usually
a very shy animal," said Denise Hilton, Pasco Animal Control Manager.
She speculated the otter could have been a mother trying to protect
her litter or it could have been rabid. Jeff McGrady, a wildlife biologist
with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, was also
quoted in the article as saying "This is very bizarre behavior
for an otter. It sort of just left us scratching our heads."
Rosetta in Denver Gets New Companion
The Rocky Mountain Ark Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Telluride, Colorado, generously donated Otto, a male river otter, to the Denver Zoo this summer following the death of Retaxus, the resident male river otter. Otto joins Rosetta, the zoo's resident female river otter. (See "Denver Zoo Otter's Past Travel" in the Spring 1998 issue of The River Otter Journal for information on Rosetta.)
have Discovered Sea Otter Bones
Now in the first stage of another effort to return the sea otter to Oregon, Portland State University researchers are focusing a genetic magnifier on sea otter bones from prehistoric settlements. The purpose is to discover whether the native otter was more closely related to today's Alaskan or California sea otter populations, or some sort of blending of the two, in hopes of insuring the success of a future reintroduction program. The project is to be financed through donations and grants. Portland State University graduate student Kim Valentine will conduct most of the laboratory work.
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