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Sea Otters Need You to Contact Your State Representative

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

You may have seen them clowning around at the zoo or maybe you were lucky enough to see them in the wild. Californian Southern Sea otters were hunted to the point of near extinction in the early 20th Century. Today California Southern Sea Otters number around 2,700. They are currently protected under the Endangered Species Act. However, sea otters may be threatened again.

Aren't they cute? (Photo credit: Mike Baird, flickr)

According to Jason Lutterman, program manager for Friends of the Sea Otter, a recently introduced bill (H.R. 4043 by Rep. Gallegly, R-Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties) would halt the sea otters’ recovery and would suspend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service procedure to end the decades-old “no-otter” zone on the southern California coast that prohibits the sea otter population from re-colonizing its traditional habitat.

“H.R. 4043 would also mandate the creation of a so-called Ecosystem Management Plan that ensures southern California’s commercial shellfish fisheries their current harvest levels in perpetuity,” says Lutterman. “An Ecosystem Management Plan that requires the current unsustainable levels of commercial shellfish harvesting does not promote the recovery of the sea otter nor does it benefit the southern California marine environment or the economies of coastal communities.”

“Sea otters benefit the ecosystem by preying on sea urchins and promoting the growth of kelp forests, which serves as habitat and nurseries for other commercially viable fish,” Lutterman explains. “Without otters, kelp-eating sea urchins have become too numerous in southern California and have destroyed large swathes of kelp habitat. Sea otters also benefit local economies by attracting tourists and promoting marine recreation.”

Exempting the Navy
A separate section of the bill would exempt the U.S. Navy from many of the protections afforded sea otters under the federal Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, including giving the Navy the power to remove otters from “Military Readiness Zones” established near Navy bases under H.R. 4043.

According to members of Friends of the Sea Otter there have never been any reported incidents of sea otters interfering with a Navy operation, and it is therefore unnecessary to strip federal protections for otters that venture into these zones.

“Congress should not bail out poorly managed fisheries or give unnecessary exemptions to the Navy at the expense of the recovery of the threatened southern sea otter,” says Lutterman.

How You Can Help
Friends of the Sea Otter have a form letter on their site that you can send directly to your legislative representative. For the form letter, to find out who your state representative is, or for more information, click here.

20 comments to Sea Otters Need You to Contact Your State Representative

  • Esther

    Signed and happy to support you on this! thanks for sharing!

  • Alice

    Signed the form letter Michele & yes, they are cute!

  • I did it Michele! Thank you for caring about the Sea Otters!

  • Sea Otters are beautiful intelligent creatures of God. Their numbers are just starting to rise. Please reconsider bill HR4030. There has to be a balance for the ecosystem to work. This is not it.
    Thank you

  • I want to clarify something very important that was not posted here. This statement is misleading and needs more context “would suspend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service procedure to end the decades-old “no-otter” zone.”

    This is not just a “procedure” that FWS has undertaken all of a sudden. The FWS is required to make a decision about the fate of the failed “no-otter” zone because of a legal settlement agreement brought against the FWS by The Otter Project and the Environmental Defense Center. The proposed legislation will undermine this legal settlement agreement which is “the key” argument against HR 4043.

    In your how you can help section, please direct people to http://www.otterproject.org where they can get more information to inform their representatives.

    Thank you.

  • Sam

    I signed the form letter. Thank you!

  • Elton

    Thank you for also covering wildlife like the sea otter. Not too many pet blogs also cover wildlife.

  • Carol Hupp

    noted, thank you Michele, I will take action on this!!

  • Linda McMurray

    This animals deserve to live free and their own safe habitat.

  • Sea Otters are beautiful intelligent creatures of God. Their numbers are just starting to rise. Please reconsider bill HR4030. There always has to be a balance for the ecosystem to work. This is not it.
    Thank you

  • Andrew

    I think sea otters are so appealing that they will be protected. I am signed the letter. Thanks!

  • Hi Elton, Most of the content here is centered around cats and dogs, but I do like covering stories about wildlife too. I like all animals. Best, Michele

  • Ed

    These are my favorite animals. Thanks for covering wildlife too.

  • Daniela

    wanted to thank you for covering wildlife and making it so easy for us to do our part!

  • Elsie Au

    Thanks for this, action taken.

  • Signed sealed delivered!

  • Thank you to everyone who has taken action against H.R. 4043! This is an incredibly important bill that has a real chance of passing and restricting the range of the southern sea otter. The public really needs to stand up and make our voices heard.

    As Brad from The Otter Project suggests, this is a complex issue. The process to end the No-Otter Zone has been ongoing for almost 20 years. For more information, please visit The Otter Project’s website about their lawsuit as well as the section on Friends of the Sea Otter’s site which contains a lot of information and background on the no-otter zone: http://seaotters.org/disablingbackground.html.

    Of course please feel free to contact us for more information as well.

    Thanks!
    Jason

  • Robert

    I’m sharing this letter, signed it, and sent i.

  • Ella

    Only 2,700 Californian Sea Otters left, how sad. I know there are more in Alaska. But it is so important to talk care of all animals. I signed the letter. Thanks Michele for posting this.

  • Allan

    I live in CA., and have seen these critters. They are fun to watch, and we should watch over them. I signed the letter. Thanks!