H-CENTRAL COAST

Dec 19, 2012 10:30 AM by Associated Press

Federal authorities end California no-otter zone

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - A 25-year federal ban on California otters south of Point Conception has been lifted, giving them freedom to migrate along the entire coast without threat of being captured and returned to northern waters.

Up to 16,000 sea otters once roamed from Oregon to Mexico, but the species was hunted to near extinction for its fur during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Federal officials concerned that oil spills could wipe out recovery chances decided in 1987 to ban the threatened species in southern waters and they tried to establish a backup population on remote San Nicolas Island.

The otters ignored the imaginary line and the San Nicolas otters refused to stay put.

Environmentalists sued and the Santa Cruz Sentinel says federal authorities have now lifted the southern no-otter zone.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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