Odd Bodkin II
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1997:
ANCHORAGE––Responding to “substantial new information”
pertaining to the application of National Biological
Service sea otter project leader James L. Bodkin to kill up to 20
endangered sea otters, reported on page 17 of the June edition of
ANIMAL PEOPLE, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has
announced intent to reopen the public comment period.
Documents obtained by ANIMAL PEOPLE indicate
that Bodkin, working out of the Alaska Science Center in
Anchorage, may be seeking a pretext to open sea otter hunting.
Heavily hunted for fur in the 19th century, sea otters
were believed to be extinct early this century, but remnants of two
subspecies were found off California and Alaska in the late 1930s.
Resenting competition from sea otters for lucrative and now depleted
abalone and sea urchins, fishers held a decade ago that the
otters had recovered enough to be removed from the federal endangered
species list. The campaign lost momentum when oiled sea
otters became the icon species of the clean-up effort after the 1989
Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Exxon compensated for the spill, in part, by funding
research. Bodkin, since 1991, has collected at least $976,600 for
ongoing projects entitled Biological Information Necessary to
Establish a Zonal Management Program for Sea Otters in Alaska,
and Interactions Between Sea Otters and Fisheries in Alaska.
A further clue to Bodkin’s direction comes from statements
by Bodkin associate Leslie Holland-Bartels, who in May
told Rosanne Pagano of the Anchorage Daily News that the estimated
8,000 Alaskan sea otters are reproducing at the maximum
rate of 20% per year, and are “consuming enormous amounts of
food,” as well as threatening to “invade” Glacier National Park.
Holland-Bartels did not mention that a single bottomdragging
net fisher can easily kill more mollusks and crustaceans
in a matter of hours, by quasi-accident, than all the sea otters in
Alaska could eat in a week. Nor did she mention that bottom-draggers
have already heavily worked the Glacier National Park waters.
[See “Odd Badkin––he seeks to kill sea otters,” ANIMAL
PEOPLE, June 1997.]