The southern sea otter and the marine turtle would get federal assistance in their struggles to survive under bills the House passed Tuesday.


The southern sea otter and the marine turtle would get federal assistance in their struggles to survive under bills the House passed Tuesday.

The House voted 316-107 to approve $5 million a year over the next five years for research and recovery programs run by the Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey for the southern sea otters along the coast of California.

In 1977, the southern sea otter was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Currently there are about 2,800 of the marine mammals along the California coast.

Under the bill, experts would study and seek to mitigate causes of high sea otter mortality, which are thought to include malnutrition, shark attacks, entanglement in fishing gear, boat strikes, shooting and proliferation of harmful algae.

“If the sea otters are dying, then something else is happening that is very keen to the coastal near-shore environment that affects the well-being of mankind,” said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., sponsor of the legislation.

The marine turtle bill extends for five years a program that also provides $5 million a year to save the reptiles, which have also been endangered by the destruction of nesting habitats, poaching, entanglement in marine debris, ship strikes and pollution.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., passed 354-72. Both bills now go to the Senate.

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The turtle bill is H.R. 509.

The sea otter bill is H.R. 556.

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