Otter Balance

The past couple days, newspapers around the country have been filled with articles about sea otters. All these thrilling reports are about sea otters being saved from fishermen by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law under consideration, Public Law 99-625, was passed by Congress in 1986 to enhance sea otters and conserve marine fisheries. In other words: Good for both sides.

The leading cause of mortality in sea otters is starvation. A female with a pup will abandon her offspring in a couple of days if she cannot find sufficient food. This does not change. The same thing is happening with California sea lions. Yet, animal rights advocates want more and more of these animals too. It seems to me Congress had it right in 1986: Strike a balance. Starvation to me is not a humane outcome.

Steven L. Rebuck was an abalone technical consultant to the Southern Sea Otter Recovery Team, 1993-2004.