Count finds threatened otters holding steady

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Officials say an annual review of California's threatened sea otters has found their population seems to be holding steady but remains low enough to remain on a federal watch list.

The U.S. Geological Survey on Monday put the sea otter count at 2,944 — down just five from the year before.

California's sea otters were presumed extinct in the 19th century. Only about 50 were discovered alive in the 1930s off Big Sur.

The otter count would have to exceed 3,090 for three straight years to come off the watch list.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the state's sea otters had a record number of pups this year. However, breeding-age females — - stressed by raising pups — continue to suffer a high mortality rate.

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