An otter turned outlaw continues to evade wildlife officials in Santa Cruz

An otter in California has been deemed a public safety risk and is being pursued by local and federal wildlife officials. However, the otter’s elusiveness has caused her to garner significant online support and virality.

Meet the outlaw: Known as otter 841, the subject is a 5-year-old female otter which has been notably aggressive and disruptive along the Santa Cruz coast.
* She has shown behavior such as confronting locals and removing surfboards.
* The perceived safety risk has led officials along with Monterey Bay Aquarium staff to plan her capture and rehoming in a more controlled environment like a zoo or an aquarium.

Public opinion: Despite the officials’ decision, public support for otter 841’s freedom continues to grow.
* A local photographer, Mark Woodward, has been documenting otter 841’s exploits, while another local, Ann Stadler, expressed her support in a public letter.
* An online petition advocating for letting the otter remain in the wild has gathered over 50,000 signatures.
* The otter’s antics have led to her becoming a viral sensation, with a myriad of memes and even her own Instagram fan page.

Wildlife officials’ perspective: The wildlife officials and biologists maintain their stance on her capture for the sake of safety and normal behavior in the otter.
* Catching the otter might be a lengthy procedure due to environmental factors, and they expressed that capture efforts might be halted if she continues to avoid them and ceases to interact with people.
* They expressed possible explanations for her behavior, including positive interactions with humans like feeding, leading to her not fearing humans.
* The plan is to conduct a thorough examination of otter 841 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium upon her capture, before finding her a new, safer home.

Background: This particular otter is no stranger to human interaction as she was born and minimally raised by staff in Monterey Bay Aquarium before being released into the wild in June 2020.
* Her interactions with humans were first documented in September the same year.
* After being driven away from the area for similar disruptive behavior last year, she returned and resumed her activities last month.

View original article on NPR

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