Arnold pardons seals
SAN DIEGO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cast a lifeline Monday to a colony of federally protected harbor seals that spend their days lounging around a popular San Diego cove and have become the subject a lengthy legal tussle over their fate.
The governor signed a bill that adds a marine mammal park to the list of acceptable uses for the sheltered cove where the seals have lived for years.
The potential reprieve came just hours after a San Diego judge ordered the city to begin chasing the pesky pinnipeds from the beach by Thursday — or risk hefty fines — in order to comply with a 2005 order to restore the cove to its original condition.
Environmentalists rejoiced at the news and had high hopes for the seals at Children’s Pool, one of two beaches in Southern California where harbor seals give birth and nurse their young.
The bill means that the city, which had planned to spend $688,000 chasing away the seals, has legal grounds to ask the judge to change his order, said Bryan Pease, an attorney for several pro-seal groups.
“Now it’s clear that under state law the seals can stay,” he said. “This is really a game-changer. This is really the end of the road for the anti-seal forces.”
-- Robin Palmer