| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2004
CONTACT: CORRIE BOSMAN 907-747-1463
Sitka, AK- The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today announced a proposed rule to list the Southwest Alaska/Aleutian Islands population of northern sea otter as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The decision comes as a relief to the Center for Biological Diversity who filed a formal petition to protect the population under the ESA in October of 2000. After several years of delay tactics by the Bush Administration, the Center sued the USFWS in December 2003 for failing to take any action to protect the endangered sea otter population.
“The Center is pleased with today’s announcement,” stated Corrie Bosman, Alaska Program Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “ It is unfortunate that despite recommendations from agency biologists that an ESA listing is needed to prevent the population from going extinct, it took several years, two administrative petitions, three notice letters and a lawsuit before the Bush Administration looked seriously at the need to protect this population” added Bosman.
“While we do not know the exact cause of the otter decline, we do know that the unraveling of the marine food chain, from Steller sea lions to killer whales to sea otters to urchins to the kelp beds themselves, is a grave sign of ecosystem stress beginning to take its toll” stated Brent Plater an attorney and marine mammal specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity. Plater continued, “Now that the formal listing procedures have been spurred into action, we will continue to monitor the situation to insure adequate protections are put in place so that this sea otter population can once again prosper.”
Once widely abundant throughout coastal areas, the sea otter was hunted
to the brink of
The USFWS expects to publish today’s decision in the Federal
Register shortly and take public comments on the proposed listing for
120 days. “We hope that the population is listed quickly concurrent
with a critical habitat designation that will be essential to the recovery
of this population” stated Bosman. “The Bush Administration
has delayed protection for the Alaska sea otter long enough, it is
time to get a recovery plan in place to protect this amazing creature” added