Well, They Otter
Sea otters should be allowed to frolic freely along the Southern California coastline, according to a new recovery plan drawn up for the threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hailed by enviros, the plan, developed over 14 years, advocates the end of a federal program that relocates otters away from shellfish grounds to benefit fishers. The plan also calls for protecting sea otters from sewage, disease, fishing gear, toxic chemicals, and oil spills. The furry marine mammals were nearly wiped out by hunters in the 19th century; their numbers have bounced up and down since then, but they’re currently not at a sustainable level, scientists say. The next step will be convincing Congress and private organizations to foot the bill for the extensive recovery recommendations in the plan. In other species news from the Golden State, a U.S. appellate court this week upheld federal protections for the endangered arroyo southwestern toad, throwing a wrench into developers’ plans to build 280 new homes in northern San Diego County.