Sunday 4 December 2016

Police hunt for otter serial killer as bodies of animals wash up on shore

Helena Horton

Published 01/09/2016 | 13:31

A sea otter
A sea otter

Police are hunting down someone who has been inexplicably shooting sea otters in California.

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Three southern sea otters have been found shot dead on Santa Cruz Harbor and Seacliff State Beach in Aptos between the 12th-19th August, according to local authorities.

Authorities said the otters were found washed up dead on a beach after being shot days or weeks before.

A fourth dead sea otter was found washed up on the 20th August, according to Ashley Spratt of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

She told the Guardian: "Finding several gunshot sea otters at the same general location during such a short time frame is very unusual.

“We don’t know why these otters were shot, but what’s important to note is that killing or harassing federally protected wildlife is a crime.”

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement on Tuesday:  “Initial necropsy results indicate the otters sustained gunshot wounds and died several days to several weeks prior to washing ashore”.

The three otters found between the 12-19th August were all males, two sub-adults and one adult.

Authorities said: "Southern sea otters are protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. They are also protected under Marine Mammal Protection Act and by California state law.

"Killing a southern sea otter is punishable by up to $100,000.00 in fines and a possible jail sentence."

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