Another sea otter has turned up shot in Clayoquot Sound, but this one wasn’t as lucky as Walter, the sea otter that was rescued after being shot in December, 2013.
The dead animal was brought in to Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society, said Gwendolyn Griffiths, a UBC student from Ontario who is interning with the non-profit group for the summer.
“Jason Feaver found the otter floating off Tree Island. We drove to Remote Passages and picked it up,” Griffiths said.
“We went in and looked for bullets, and found a hole in the pelt,” she said.
The mature female otter was big and had been tagged 109-118 in a raft of females off Tree Island in 2010, when she weighted 51 pounds.
At time of death, she was much bigger – 107 cm long.
It appeared to have been shot with a .22 calibre rifle. They took samples for researchers and returned the body to the water, as it was illegal to keep it.
“They were almost extirpated from the coast at one point. I guess it’s because they’re eating a resource that local people do enjoy, that’s probably why it got shot,” she said.
“If they had been harvesting the pelt for traditional use, they wouldn’t have left the carcass floating in the water,” Griffiths said.
A raft of otters can clean out a beach’s geoduck population. The meaty clams fetch top dollar as exotic international cuisines, and geoduck fishers are reportedly not fond of the revival of sea otters on the West Coast after they were brought back from the brink of extinction following the fur trade of the early 20th century.
Walter, the sea otter rescued after being shot in the head near Tofino in December, gained international headlines after he was blinded and partially maimed but given a chance to recover at the Vancouver Aquarium.