From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1996:

Alaskan tour boat operators are
reportedly lobbying the Alaska Sea Otter
Commission, a native-run board set up to
supervise “subsistence” hunting exempted
from the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to
prevent repetition of an August 22 incident in
which several Anchorage residents shot as
many as 50 sea otters in front of tour vessels
in Kachemak Bay, but retrieved just 14.
Publicity over the sea otter massacre may have
helped encourage the Bristol Bay Native
Association and state and federal agencies to
divert funding from other programs to closely
supervise the October native killing of 10 walruses
at Round Island, within the Walrus
Islands State Game Sanctuary. In a fit of
pique at Friends of Animals for documenting
native walrus poaching and opposing wolfkilling
to make more moose and caribou available
to human hunters, the Alaska Legislature
axed funding of the sanctuary last spring.

James Harvey and Jenifer Hurley
of the San Jose State University/Moss Landing
Marine Laboratories at Monterey Bay head a
25-member team who are training a sea lion
couple, Beaver and Sake, to videotape 20 to
40 grey whales during their late winter migration
and the feeding behavior of grey whales
in the Gulf of Farallones National Marine
Sanctuary. The project is also expected to
yield significant new information about the
diving and swimming abilities of sea lions.
The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers on September 25 issued a permit to
radio station KISW-FM to test Fake Willy, a
16-foot lifelike replica of an orca, to see if it
really can scare sea lions away from the
endangered steelhead runs at Ballard Locks,
near Seattle. A National Marine Fisheries
Service permit is also needed before the test
can proceed. Hoping to save a popular
California sea lion named Hondo and others
from shooting by Washington state Fish and
Wildlife agents, KISW listeners donated
$3,000 to buy Fake Willy from a Scots salmon
farmer, who has used similar models successfully
against seals for about five years.
Hondo, however, who frequented the locks
from 1985 to 1995, was captured and flown to
Sea World Orlando on May 29, along with
two other longtime lock-raiders, Big Frank
and Bob. Hondo died at Sea World of an
unknown infection on September 2.
Observers from the Point Reyes
Bird Observatory in late August documented
the first birth of a northern fur seal on the
Farallon Islands since 1817. The pup was
with a family including a mature bull, an
adult cow, and two juvenile females, in a
mixed herd otherwise consisting of elephant
seals and sea lions. Native to the Farallons,
northern fur seals were extirpated between
1807 and 1812, and were gone from the
whole California coast by 1850. A breeding
colony begun by migrant northern fur seals
circa 30 years ago on San Miguel Island, farther
south, now numbers about 10,000.
Sixty bachelor walruses fell to
their deaths during the last week in August
from a cliff overlooking Magpie Beach, a
popular haulout in the Togiak National
Wildlife Refuge of southwestern Alaska.
Forty-two walruses fell from the same cliff in
1994, the first known instance of the behavior,
and 17 fell in 1995. Wildlife officials
turned 155 walruses away from climbing the
cliff on August 27, but 70 got by, of whom
45 eventually fell. Exactly why the walruses
are climbing and falling is, despite plentiful
theories, anyone’s guess. About 2,500 bachelor
walruses have recolonized Magpie Beach
over the past 10 years, circa 40 years after the
previous population was hunted out.
The National Marine Fisheries
Service has refused to prevent Monterey Bay
boat owners from using nail beds to keep sea
lions off decks and docks. “Owners of private
property can use any measure they deem necessary
to protect it from marine mammals, so
long as the animals are not seriously injured or
killed,” said NMFS official Joe Cordaro. The
Monterey SPCA argues that a sea lion who
leaps out of the water onto the nails will suffer
“a minimum of 20 to 30 puncture wounds and
have to tear himself away,” as Monterey city
councillor David Potter puts it, but no actual
injuries have been documented.

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