Saturday 20 January 2018

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

A sea otter
A sea otter

Helena Horton

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

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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