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Otters Are Once Again Allowed to Swim Off Southern California

Otters are legal again in SoCal: "Federal authorities lifted a quarter-century no-otter zone for the waters off Southern California on Tuesday," reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The zone was put in place in 1987, and since then, otters who traveled south of Point Conception in Santa Barbara County (where the Santa Barbara Channel meets the Pacific) were supposed to be caught and returned to NorCal waters; any SoCal otters were supposed to be sequestered on San Nicolas Island in the Channel Islands (famous as the home of the real-life Island of the Blue Dolphins story). Commercial fishing and oil interests and the Navy feared that the otters "could compete for resources and complicate offshore development." But otters have minds of their own! They "ignored the rule. Those at San Nicolas refused to stay put, and the population there dwindled. Others wandered south from more northern waters. Officials stopped enforcing the ban in 2001 and it was officially lifted this week in response to a 2009 lawsuit settlement.
· Feds end Southern California otter ban; expansion of range seen as key to species recovery [SCS]