Feds Propose to End the No-Otter Zone
MONTEREY, Calif. (08/17/2011) - A coalition of organizations welcomed news that California’s struggling sea otters may soon get a big boost thanks to a draft plan released by federal wildlife officials today that would end a controversial “no-otter” zone on the California coast and allow the marine mammals to re-colonize their traditional habitat.
California sea otters are protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 1986, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) implemented a translocation program that removed otters from the shoreline of Southern California and relocated them to San Nicolas Island, with the hope of establishing a second viable population that would protect the species in the event of any environmental disaster. At the same time, FWS implemented a “no-otter” zone south of Point Conception in which otters would be removed and transported back north of the zone’s boundary. Translocation failed to promote otter recovery, and FWS subsequently determined that enforcement of the “no-otter” zone violates the ESA by jeopardizing the species’recovery due to harm to the species during transport. FWS has long recognized that natural range expansion is necessary to achieve species recovery for the California sea otter.
For the next 60 days, FWS is soliciting public input on the proposal before making a final decision. Conservation groups that have been focused on efforts to aid the otter’s recovery were quick to commend FWS’ proposal to end the translocation program and allow for the species’ natural range expansion.
Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Sea Otter, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, issued the following statement:
“Today is a good day for California sea otters. We support an end to the ineffective and harmful translocation program and “no-otter” management zone. For sea otters to have a real shot at recovery, they must be allowed to return to their historic range off the coast of Southern California. If sea otters thrive again throughout their historic range, the entire marine ecosystem will benefit.”
James Navarro, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0247
Jason Lutterman, Friends of the Sea Otter, (831) 915-3275
Kristen Eastman, Humane Society of the United States, (240) 654-2667
Andrew Johnson, Monterey Bay Aquarium, (831) 648-7934
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org .
Founded in 1968 and with over 4,000 members worldwide, Friends of the Sea Otter advances the conservation of sea otters by educating the public, supporting research, and advocating for
the protection of the sea otter at the local, state, and federal level. www.seaotters.org .
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- On the web at humanesociety.org.
The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. Through its award-winning exhibits, education programs, conservation research initiatives and ocean policy advocacy, it reaches millions of people and advances progress toward creating a future with healthy oceans. www.montereybayaquarium.org .