02:00 PM

Threatened California sea otter shot dead

Defenders of Wildlife posts a $2,500 reward for information on the crime


  • A threatened southern sea otter was shot to death in the Morro Bay area just over a week ago
  • Killing a southern sea otter is a crime punishable by $10,000 in fines and possible jail time
  • Defenders of Wildlife is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction
  • California sea otters are struggling to survive in the wild with a population hovering around 3,000 animals, down from historic highs estimated at 15,000-17,000 in the 18th century
  • Southern sea otters are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act
MONTEREY BAY, Calif. (07/01/2010) -

Defenders of Wildlife is offering a $2,500 reward today for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman who fatally shot a threatened southern sea otter. Wildlife authorities investigating the crime believe that the sea otter was either shot at sea or along the shoreline and was found north of the Morro Strand Campground on June 24.

“With so few southern sea otters surviving in the wild, we need to do everything we can to protect them,” said Jim Curland, marine program associate for Defenders of Wildlife. “Killing a threatened animal is a shameful act and should not go unpunished. We hope the reward will help bring whoever is responsible for this senseless shooting to justice.”

Curland emphasized the importance of public involvement in solving sea otter poaching: “Anyone with information that could lead to the apprehension of the individual or individuals involved will do the right thing and contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”  

Information regarding the illegal killing of sea otters should be directed to special agent Mona Iannelli with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She can be reached by phone at (310) 328-1516 x229 or by e-mail at mona_iannelli@fws.gov.

Funding for the reward comes from Defenders of Wildlife's Endangered Species Reward Fund established in 1998 to bring poachers to justice.


Learn more about sea otters.


Jim Curland, (831)726-9010
Brian Bovard, (202) 772-0284

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.  With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.