For years, U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel have been in charge of a curious "translocation program" designed to keep sea otters out of Southern California waters coveted by fishermen who compete with the otters for such frutti di mare as lobsters, sea urchins and abalone. As the AP explains, the process of relocating the furry sea mammals is somewhat involved.
After waiting for an otter to fall asleep, wildlife crews would sneak up beneath it with a propeller-powered craft manned by a diver and snare it in a net. The otter then would be flown in a chartered plane or driven hundreds of miles to a Northern California beach for re-release. Some died from the stress.The total cost for the program has run into the millions with little to show for it. All too often the otters (those that didn't expire en route) would come back, navigating hundreds of miles to frolic in the same kelp beds they had been evicted from. Sensibly enough, Fish and Wildlife would like to ditch the failed program. The agency is taking taking public comments through January.
Total cost: $6,000 to $12,000 per otter.
By the early 1900s, the southern sea otter was thought extinct. Today, there are more than 2,000 animals, all descended from one tiny colony discovered in 1938, off Big Sur.