In the 1980’s, the Fish & Wildlife Service began relocating any otters found south of Point Conception, on the southern California coast, to San Nicolas Island. The goal of the program was to establish a population of several hundred otters at San Nicolas Island that would be protected from oil spills, fishing boats and other hazards.
The inherent flaw in this plan is obvious, however: wild animals do not understand the concept of boundaries, nor do they necessarily stay where they’re put. Today, with only a few dozen otters at San Nicolas Island, the Fish & Wildlife Service admits that its relocation project was a failure and is looking at other options for helping the otters recover. One alternative the
agency is considering would continue to protect the otters that remain at San Nicolas Island while allowing the rest of the 2,500 otters off California’s coast to return to the full range of their natural habitat, including south of Point Conception.
The Fish & Wildlife Service is currently accepting comments on its various options for new otter recovery plans.
== What to do ==
Send a message urging the Fish & Wildlife Service to adopt a new recovery plan that would allow sea otters to return to the full range of their natural habitat along California’s coast.
== Contact information ==
You can send a comment to the Fish & Wildlife Service directly from NRDC’s Earth Action Center at [url=http://www.nrdc.org/action/]http://www.nrdc.org/action/[/url] Or use the contact information and sample letter below to send your own message.
== Sample letter ==
Subject: Sea otter translocation – Adopt Option 3C
Dear Field Supervisor Noda,
Sea otters are an important part of California’s coastal environment. They help maintain healthy kelp forests and they enhance the state’s economy by attracting visitors who come to see the otters playing in the wild. The Fish & Wildlife Service should therefore encourage the recovery of the California sea otter by adopting Option 3C, which would allow otters to return to and expand into their historic southern California range.
The Fis? & Wildlife Service’s program to relocate otters to San Nicolas Island was costly, difficult for the otters and ultimately unsuccessful. Continuing to prohibit sea otters from expanding into their natural range threatens their future existence. In the last few years, otter populations have leveled off as more otters have died from diseases and other causes.
I care about California’s otters and I want to see them recover fully. I urge you to choose Option 3C and let the otters recover along the entire California coast.