Santa Cruz: Hunt for mystery sea otter killer still on

Santa Cruz: Hunt for mystery sea otter killer still on

In the recent weeks, southern sea otters have become the target of deadly gunfire, which prompts animal-rights advocates to take action.

On Friday, the authorities doubled a reward to $20,000 for any kind of information about the one behind the death of the marine mammals previous month in Santa Cruz County.

Dave Feliz, manager of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, said, “We are all just aghast that something like that would happen. The shooter or shootersare breaking the law, and they are killing this animal that is just loved by people”.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a private donor have joined hands to increase the reward from the $10,000 being decided by the federal government last week.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and California state law, the sea otters have protection. But despite protection, officials said that since August 12, the bodies of three male southern sea otters have been found on shore between Santa Cruz Harbor and Seacliff State Beach in Aptos. Gun shots were responsible for death in each case.

According to Steve Shimek, executive director of the Otter Project, shooting ocean animals isn’t entirely rare, mainly when fishermen are struggling in catching particular fish such as sea urchin and abalone, favorite food of sea otters.

He mentioned that to with such a scenario, some fishermen intentionally run over otters with their boats to keep them away from their fishing.

Shimek said that even if an individual is angry he must think twice before taking such a cruel string step of shooting animals. California sea lions also face such plight many times.

Mike Harris, senior environmental scientist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that before the most recent fatal shootings, last timeit was in 2013 when so many sea otters were found dead at Asilomar State Beach near Monterey.


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