US Fish & Wildlife seeks to end Calif. sea otter relocation

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David McNew/Getty Images

File: A sea otter feeds, April 6, 2004, near Valdez, Alaska.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it wants to stop relocating southern sea otters from the mainland California coast to one of the Channel Islands because the 24-year-old effort isn't helping the threatened species.

The program dating to 1987 involves transferring otters from Central California to San Nicolas Island about 75 miles southwest of the Los Angeles coast.

The idea was to protect the species from being devastated by an event such as an oil spill by establishing a separate colony far away.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday an independent population failed to become established largely because many relocated otters left the island.

The otters currently range from Santa Barbara County north to San Mateo County. They once ranged from Oregon to Mexico's Baja California.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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