A bill seeking to protect the threatened southern sea otter
population was introduced to the state Assembly last week. The
brainchild of Democratic Assemblymembers from Santa Cruz and
Sacramento, the proposed legislation aims to cut down on the levels
of Toxoplasma gondii – a fatal parasite found in cat feces and
kitty litter that often winds up in the ocean. Nearly 52 percent of
dead otters found on the beach and 38 percent of live otters have
tested positive for the destructive parasite since 1998. The bill
also calls for a warning label on kitty litter packages urging pet
owners not to flush it down the toilet and increased fines for
killing an otter. The shellfish-munching mammal – which has been
banned from local waters since the 1980s – has been the subject of
local controversy recently, as federal officials consider whether
or not to welcome otters back to the Santa Barbara Channel


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