Recovery Strategies

Recovery Strategy for the Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) in Canada

Sea otters ranged once from Northern Japan to central Baja California, but were hunted almost to extinction during the Maritime fur trade that began in the mid 1700s. As few as 2,000 animals, little more than 1% of the pre-fur trade population, are thought to have remained in 13 remnant populations by 1911. The last verified sea otter in Canada was shot near Kyuquot, British Columbia (BC), in 1929. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 sea otters from Amchitka and Prince William Sound, Alaska, were translocated to Checleset Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Recent population surveys (2001 to 2004) indicate the Canadian sea otter population includes a minimum of 2,700 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and 500 animals on the central BC coast. Sea otters are legally listed as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) but have recently been reassessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as Special Concern as they have re-populated 25-33% of their historic range and the population is growing and expanding. However, the population is still considered small (<3500) and their susceptibility to oil and the proximity to major oil tanker routes make them particularly vulnerable to oil spills (COSEWIC 2007).

Consultation period: 2007-08-07 to 2007-10-06

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Contact Person(s)

Director
SARA Directorate
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
200 Kent St.
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0E6
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