Feds give sea otters habitat protection in Alaska

Maideline Sanchez

From the Associated Press by Mary Pemberton

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Years after being placed on the Endangered Species List, sea otters in southwest Alaska have been given an important recovery tool.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday designated more than 5,800 square miles as critical habitat for sea otters in the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea and Alaska Peninsula.

Critical habitat designation is required under the Endangered Species Act. The animals were listed as threatened in 2005. An environmental group sued to get the federal government to move more quickly to get the animals added protection.

Ninety percent of the world’s sea otters live in coastal Alaska. But numbers have plummeted in many areas of southwest Alaska. The reasons for the decline aren’t known.