Personally, I was confounded by the term “wildlife sleuths,” but what is currently troubling them has been described in an article published February 27 by The New York Times. This article examines the declining population of Pacific Sea Otters, which in a similar vein as the wolves, has been affected by the human population. Like wolves, otters’ extinction was primarily a result of humans – they were often killed for their furs. Despite an international ban on commercial otter hunting in 1911, the otter population in California has decreased dramatically, resting at just 2700. To give some perspective, there were once 16,000 otters in the California region.
Veterinary scientists blame coastal pollution as a main cause of depleting sea otter populations, particularly parasites, bacteria, toxins and chemicals. Biologists claim sea otters are endangered simply because their food supply is being depleted, which in turn affects their health and increases susceptibility to diseases promulgated by pollutants.
Of course, other issues have contributed to lower sea otter populations, as indicated by Defenders of Wildlife. Habitat loss and degradation, oil spills and conflicts with shellfish fisheries are also a source of problems for sea otters. Many groups have been devoted to garnering attention for these issues, including this Youtube informational video. Unfortunately, if this issue shares similarities with wolves in the campaigns against them, sea otters may remain an endangered species for some time.