By Monica Vaughan.
Sea otters will remain free to roam into their historic home waters of Southern California without being forcibly removed, thanks to a long-fought legal victory for advocates of endangered wildlife and despite a national effort by conservative groups who saw the issue as a test case.
That environmental win came Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined a petition brought by sea urchin fishermen to reconsider a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal decision and reinstate a No Otter Zone that stretched from Point Conception south to the border of Mexico.
The case drew the attention of conservative policy groups across the nation and 17 states that saw it as an opportunity for newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh “to make his mark by reining in federal bureaucrats,” with an opportunity to reconsider a legal principle that upholds federal agencies’ ability to interpret laws and enforce regulations without judicial oversight.
Instead, “Otters win, again,” said Steve Shimek, a biologist who created and directs the Otter Project in Monterey.
He said bringing back the No Otter Zone would have prevented the recovery of the sea otter population, which was nearly decimated by the fur trade.
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