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Reward Offered in Killing of Three California Sea Otters Found at Asilomar Beach
Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Sea Otter, The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Monterey Bay Aquarium, U.C. Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, and individual donor Dusty Nabor, are offering a $21,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for fatally shooting three threatened southern sea otters found at Asilomar Beach, near Monterey, California in early September 2013.
Biologists with the Monterey Bay Aquarium found the sea otters and the aquarium is working with authorities and other groups to publicize this information. Wildlife authorities are investigating the crime.
Kim Delfino, director of California programs for Defenders of Wildlife said, “These baseless killings are nothing short of acts of barbarism. Moreover, shooting endangered species like the southern sea otter is illegal, and the criminals responsible should be punished to the highest extent of the law. Southern sea otters are one of the charismatic species that make our country such a special place, and we must do all that we can to protect and champion these imperiled animals.”
Jim Curland, advocacy program director, Friends of the Sea Otter said, “With so few southern sea otters surviving in the wild, we need to do everything we can protect them. Killing a defenseless animal is a horrific act and should not go unpunished. We hope the reward will help bring whoever is responsible for this senseless shooting to justice.”
Jennifer Fearing, deputy director of programs and policy for The Humane Society of the United States said, “The person or people responsible for this devastating crime must be brought to justice. We are so grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their tireless work to find those responsible and we implore anyone with information to come forward.”
Andrew Johnson, sea otter research and conservation program manager for Monterey Bay Aquarium said, “With all of the natural threats and human-caused problems facing sea otters and other threatened and endangered species, it’s especially tragic that a person would set out to intentionally kill these sea otters.”
Last fall Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre saved another sea otter that was severely wounded after being shot. The otter, dubbed Walter, made international news after he was found near Tofino, B.C. riddled with gunshot wounds and blinded. After several surgeries, to repair shattered bones and extract broken teeth Walter began to recover. He’ll remain at Vancouver Aquarium indefinitely due to the severity of his injuries.
The organizations emphasized the importance of public involvement in solving crimes involving poaching of protected sea otters. Anyone with information that could lead to the apprehension of the individual or individuals involved can contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Information regarding the illegal killing of sea otters should be directed to Special Agent Souphanya of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 650-876-9078. An anonymous report can also be made by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contact line at 703-358-1949, or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife CalTIP line at 1-888-DFG-CALTIP.
Defenders of Wildlife and Friends of the Sea Otter are each contributing $1,000 to the reward; The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are contributing $5,000; Monterey Bay Aquarium is contributing another $5,000; U.C. Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center is contributing $4,000; and concerned citizen Dusty Nabor is contributing $500. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will provide $4,500 from the California Sea Otter Fund. California taxpayers finance this fund through voluntary contributions made on their California state tax returns. The California Sea Otter Fund supports sea otter conservation through investigation of causes of sea otter mortality and enforcement of laws protecting sea otters.
* Killing a California or southern sea otter is a crime punishable by federal and state fines and penalties and possible jail time.
* California sea otters are struggling to survive in the wild; their population hovers around 3,000 animals, down from historic highs estimated at 15,000-17,000 (pre-fur trade era).
* Southern sea otters are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.
February 14, 2014