"U.S. Will Let Otters Roam Along Southern California Coastline"

"After 25 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to end its program of relocating the mammals, calling the effort a failure. Fishermen complain."

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to allow sea otters to roam freely down the Southern California coastline, abandoning its program to relocate the voracious shellfish eaters from waters reserved for fishermen.

Federal officials determined that their sea otter trans-location program had failed after 25 years and thus they were terminating it, according to a decision published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

'As a result, it allows sea otters to expand their range naturally into Southern California,' the notice said.

Federal officials turned Southern California into an 'otter-free zone' in the late 1980s after moving 140 otters from Monterey Bay to San Nicolas Island, about 60 miles off the coast of Ventura County. The idea was to establish a reserve colony of otters in case a disaster, such as a catastrophic oil spill, wiped out the otters along the coast."

Kenneth R. Weiss reports for the Los Angeles Times December 20, 2012.

Source: LA Times, 12/20/2012