Sea otters now free to traverse the entire California coast!  »

Did you know that since 1987, sea otters were federally banned from going past Point Conception in Santa Barbara County? That’s right, every time you saw a sea otter in the wilds of Southern California (except off San Nicolas Island), it was breaking the law! Are you imagining them in little raccoon-style eye masks now, because I totally am.

It gets more ridiculous: Between 1987 and 2001, authorities actually relocated—as in, physically moved—otters that strayed past the completely arbitrary¬†boundary. And the ones that defied the law by daring to live south of that imaginary border weren’t even granted federal protection as an endangered species, despite being the same species as the otters living in the “acceptable” ¬†area!

As of Dec. 18, 2012, though, our otter pals are officially allowed to roam the California coast at will, and the U.S. government extends endangered species protection to every tricksy sea weasel swimming with us.

Further details at the Santa Cruz Sentinel and The Awl.

[Photo by Mike Baird via Flickr]

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