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California Sea Otters Targeted in Defense Authorization Bill

Michael Jasny

Posted November 6, 2013

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California sea otter (credit NOAA Fisheries)The Senate will shortly be considering a provision that would allow the U.S. Navy to injure and kill California sea otters, without complying with the core wildlife statutes protecting this threatened species. 

Recently, the House added language to this year’s defense authorization bill that outright exempts the Navy from two federal laws, the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, for any harm it causes sea otters off its Southern California bases.  The effect would be to thwart conservation efforts there, relieving the military of its basic legal obligation to minimize impacts on this species to the extent practicable.  Senator Reid says the new authorization bill, which is now before the Senate, will come to a floor vote by Thanksgiving.

The Navy doesn’t need the new language.  Military training is already treated as a special case in both statutes, and exemptions are available if push comes to shove and national security is at issue.  What the Navy is stumping for is a solution in search of a problem.  The situation would be absurd if a threatened species weren’t at stake and if Congress weren’t about to bore a hole through two landmark environmental laws.

Notably, the Navy’s request also runs counter to the administration’s important new efforts at sea otter conservation.  For years, the furry mammals were subject to a misguided “translocation” policy that removed any otters found off Southern California and transported them north of Point Conception.  Last December, the administration finally recognized the policy for what it was—a failure that undermined the species’ recovery—and formally ended it.  But the Navy seems unwilling to give up an advantage, even a needless one.

If you’re from California, you can let your Senators know what you think of this terrible provision and ask them to keep it out of the final Defense bill. Call Sen. Diane Feinstein’s office at (202) 224-3841, and Sen. Barbara Boxer’s at (202) 224-3553.

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Elizabeth McNallyNov 6 2013 05:24 PM

Sea Otters belong to the world. They are endangered and further threatening their survival is unethical and ludicrous.

belen ordoñezNov 6 2013 05:31 PM


Juliana SuttonNov 6 2013 05:32 PM

Please, do not allow these two exemptions to go through. Our planet and the species which contribute to it in so many ways is not up to this.
I reiterate, please do NOT vote for these exemptions in any way shape or form as a representative for your community and this country.
Thank you.

Sharon AdamsNov 6 2013 05:33 PM

I love the Otters! They have enough things
threatening their existence. Please don't
pass this terrible provision-section 320 of
the National Defense Authorization Act.
We need our Otters!!

DreNov 6 2013 05:35 PM

WTF?!?!?! Enough already!!!

Linda DorneyNov 6 2013 05:39 PM

Please don't pass this terrible provision. These Otters are beautiful and don't deserve to be harmed. Awful , Awful to even consider this. You people should be ashamed of yourself.

Rhonda SmithNov 6 2013 05:46 PM

The sea otters kust be protected. Man has no right to decide what creatures should live or not.

Sian JonesNov 6 2013 05:52 PM

The pure arrogance is despicable. America has a very bad habit of pushing conservation and the environment to one side when it chooses to. This time it's the Navy, in the past and the future it will be big businesses.

Stella SNov 6 2013 05:53 PM

Dear Mrs, Sir,

There is one question I have for you.
How many lives must there be destroit for you to awaken, to realize that this is not the right way. That killing other species is not thinking in long term. Hereby I hope your wisdom will be one out of love.

Friendly regards,


Donna HallNov 6 2013 05:57 PM

It's getting so that nobody cares what they destroy in our world these days.

Beverly WalkerNov 6 2013 05:59 PM

One more voice for the otters and other wildlife. We must stop destroying the world.

Suzan HolsombackNov 6 2013 06:00 PM

Since when does the Navy's wants overrule nature? Enough is enough. First it's the cetaceans and now the otters. Their is nothing more important to our national defense than defending our natural inhabitants.

kristina pindalNov 6 2013 06:01 PM

Please do not allow anyone exemption from laws that protect any of our wildlife. It is critical that our sea otter population thrives as well as all other wildlife in this world. Time to live in the 21st century and stop being barbarians.

Barbara MoritschNov 6 2013 06:02 PM

The Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act were put into place as laws because species were being wiprd out by human activities. There should be no exemptions. Period. If the federal government continues to act in ways that destroy our environment and other species, what is there left to "defend?" Stop the madness.

Carrie LundbergNov 6 2013 06:04 PM

They are endagered for a reason, no special exemptions to kill them!

Barb DeWittNov 6 2013 06:07 PM

Why kill these innocent animals????? Doesn't make any sense!!! Please leave them alone!!!!!

Gail MagnerNov 6 2013 06:20 PM

A society is judged on the way it treats it's animals.

Dean Leh, M.A., M.S.Ed.Nov 6 2013 06:26 PM

"Animals are innocent casualties of the world view that asserts that some lives are more valuable than others, that the powerful are entitled to exploit the powerless, and that the weak must be sacrificed for the greater good (Steven Simmons)." "The Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act were put into place as laws because species were being wiped out by human activities. There should be no exemptions. Period. If the federal government continues to act in ways that destroy our environment and other species, what is there left to "defend?" Stop the madness (Barbara Moritsch)."

Paula KelmanNov 6 2013 06:36 PM

Enough already! NO, the Navy cannot have any special exemptions. I support the Navy's efforts to do your job, but it's time you found ANOTHER way to do it without harming any animals. They have absolutely every right to be here that we do, if not more, because they aren't destroying the earth and its inhabitants to live (in other words to do their "job").

Save every beautiful otter.

sharon colletteNov 6 2013 06:48 PM

Please don't pass this terrible provision. These Otters are beautiful and don't deserve to be harmed. Awful , Awful to even consider this. You people should be ashamed of yourself.

Kay MitchellNov 6 2013 07:17 PM

Is it necessary that the US Navy kill the remaining life in the Pacific? Fukushima's residue hasn't reach the otters yet, so why don't you go do your testing over in the rmore radioactive Western Pacific where you will more likely be putting those life forms with tumors big as Toyota's out of their misery. Was a time when the US Navy was looked upon as we have the Coast Guard........

Michael GuyetteNov 6 2013 07:31 PM

This is terrible! Who's thinking?

Nadine LabreaNov 6 2013 08:50 PM

Why be so mean? Why the pleasure to take another life? How is enjoyable in killing?

diane lee tysonNov 6 2013 09:09 PM

You should be ashamed of even thinking of killing these beautiful cute Otters. They aren't hurting anybody. Shame on you Navy.

Ronna Rault Nov 6 2013 09:42 PM

Does it ever end? Why does the navy have to continually destroy the environment it lives in? Enough is enough!

Jacqueline Burns-WaltersNov 6 2013 10:17 PM

They don't belong to you, so lay off!

Colleen DeatsmanNov 6 2013 10:49 PM

NO, the Navy does not need to have any special exemptions. I support the Navy's efforts, but it's time they find ways to do their job that do NOT harm the oceans or any animals.

susan williamsNov 6 2013 10:52 PM

For Christ's sake, how could anyone harm
precious, intelligent creatures like these Sea Otters!? Please, STOP the Cruelty!!!! STOP the Madness!!! N O W ! ! !

Greg von BuchauNov 6 2013 10:53 PM

The politicians who will vote this in have been bought off by lobbyists who work for all the corporations that make money from military contrcts like GE, Halliburton etc ad nauseum. It's bog bucks and nothing will stand in the way of MONEY.

Deborah BealNov 7 2013 12:20 AM

There is no intelligent thinking involved here....I live in California & will contact my representatives to ask them not to support this initiative....

Kimber HawkeyNov 7 2013 12:52 AM

It's horrific shit like this perpetrated against the innocents in the world that make me understand why people turn to terrorism.

EVERYONE MUST ACT....even call Boxer's office if you are not a Californian to let them know that you are watching and want these endangered and wonderful animals saved.

Cathy S.Nov 7 2013 12:53 AM

Why are you looking only for California residents to contact their representatives if this is coming before the U.S. Senate? The Navy and the Endangered Species Act belong to all Americans.

Joanna RamosNov 7 2013 01:07 AM

This is inhumane and needs to stop!!

Elena KozlovaNov 7 2013 01:18 AM

We cannot make excuses for killing other creatures of the world. No reason is good enough to torture or take lives of others who are defend less. We need to stop the laws that allow this kind of in human treatment. All our activities need to be guided by the ethical commitment to the world around us.

Frank HuttingerNov 7 2013 02:00 AM

The Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act were put into place as laws because species were being wiprd out by human activities. There should be no exemptions. Period. If the federal government continues to act in ways that destroy our environment and other species, what is there left to "defend?" Stop the madness.

Brad ThomasNov 7 2013 03:51 AM

Please spare the lives on Earth ... and
Care for the Earth

Brian KlechaNov 7 2013 03:56 AM

Protect Animals we dont need anymore stupid useless over priced weapons

Lucinda BrisbaneNov 7 2013 05:14 AM

It is so very upsetting to know that the NAVY is seeking permission to skirt protection for endangered species rules and be allowed to destroy sea OTTERS in order to do their exercizes... What are they learning to protect if they destroy what is rare and precious ????? We must protect the otters. The NAVY needs to back off !! No way, NAVY.

Maya OosterhoffNov 7 2013 08:25 AM

Animals have suffered enough from mankind already and need (habitat) protection now more than ever, no matter what species

Dawn HarbinNov 7 2013 11:25 AM

Please do not allow the Navy to destroy wildlife. It is their duty to protect life…not destroy it!

Pia Vergara Nov 7 2013 11:39 AM

Theirs no need to danger this species! Lets protect Mother Nature before we ruin her. Every species is essential to human kind. Lets be kind to our furry friends!!! Thank you!

Karin MachusicNov 7 2013 12:02 PM

Please show leadership and do NOT allow this new provision to move forward! California sea otters are a treasure and deserve their protections! This insensitive policy is shameful.

Amanda AntunesNov 7 2013 12:34 PM

Although I'm not in California, I'm writing to you from Portugal to urge you to vote against the new autorization bill which will endanger sea otters' existence in Southern California. This Thanksgiving please vote NO to this terrible provision that outright exempts the Navy from two federal laws, the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Please keep this terrible exemption out of the final Defense bill.

Delia NashNov 7 2013 12:44 PM

We have no right to harm other life on this planet! Humankind should seek to co-exist with all life forms. We know and understand so little about the true basis of life and creation! God made them all! You would be harming God by harming any one of them!

Nicky smedleyNov 7 2013 06:41 PM

Please dont allow this to happen. Too many creatures are been threatened with exstinction. We need the navy to be the sea police and protect not neglect.

Carol Carson Callahan, Ph.D.Nov 7 2013 11:40 PM

It is almost impossible to believe that the US Senate would consider allowing the Navy, or any other person/institution to harm marine life. The otters in particular are vulnerable to human actions because they live primarily on the surface of the ocean & thus are easier targets to those who would harm them. As a biological anthropologist, I know what a creative species we humans are, & know that we can come up with solutions to problems that don't include harming such species as the otter.

Jayme WilkersonNov 8 2013 01:01 AM

No, No, No no no. Please, do not kill these otters. Please do not kill any helpless, harmless, beautiful creatures, ever. What is the matter with these people anyway?
The answer is leave the otters and their natural habitat alone, please, I beg of you. Please. I am not from California, I am from Oklahoma. Please get a grip, we have the best navy and armed forces in the world, to defend our U.S. and other countries from evil. Do not participate in evil, please do not kill these precious, beautiful, harmless lives. Please.

Karen PowersNov 8 2013 01:32 AM

Sea Otters are more than just cute mammals. Sea otters eat sea urchins. Why is this important? Sea urchins eat kelp forests. If Sea urchin populations are not kept under control by Otters, then small fish like salmon and the fish that salmon eat cannot hide in kelp forests while they grow up. If salmon don't survive then Orcas have no food. Sea Otters are part of the whole ecosystem that has just started to get back into balance. If Sea Otters die, the ecosystem changes and we have fewer fish. Does the human race really want to ruin even more of the valuable habitats on our planet? The resources being destroyed are not just for Otters: the resulting habitat destruction effects the planet. Even if you want to be selfish; by saving other species we are saving our own food supply as well. In the future they might say "There used to be restaurants that sold sea food. What was that?".

Suzanne lebovitNov 8 2013 09:18 AM

Really? The last I looked, the Navy was exposed polluting groundwater in people's towns. Then it's sonar that will harm hearing and lives of sea mammals. I know that good old American ingenuity can do a better job of protecting our seas than this. Protecting us is not destroying us. Get off your arrogance and come up with a better plan.

Liz McManamyNov 10 2013 09:19 PM

Is there a link to send a protest letter to our state senator?

Donald LittonNov 11 2013 12:51 AM

And it is not just the Navy. Urchin divers too have lobbied for their right to "accidental take." They have had some sympathetic senators try to include language in bills before allowing them the right to kill otters. Divers are afraid of otters reclaiming coastal areas where they belong. The entire California coastal ecosystem needs the otters back. Urchin divers need to accept a future where otters return to southern California without threat.

Comments are closed for this post.


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