Sitka, Alaska (KINY) The growth in sea otter populations in Southeast Alaska has drawn the attention of lawmakers like Sita (R) Bert Stedman.
Stedman filed a bill to make it easier to expand hunting opportunities beyond native Alaskans. He said the goal of the bill is to return balance to the ecosystem.
"Don't jump to the conclusion that we are trying to remove them. We want to coexist with tourism, commercial fishermen and subsistence. We want a balance and we are definitely out of balance right now."
Alaska Wildlife Alliance Southeast President Pat O'Brien said some fishermen like otters, however shell fishermen do not, "The fishermen benefit from the sea otters because they help kelp and sea grass grow. It's a big issue. We are supportive of the sea otters and not killing more of them."
Shell fishermen are concerned because otters eat too much fish, reportedly equal to their own body weight each day.
Another priority of the organization is to provide a buffer zone from hunting for wolves in the Denali Park. The group said tourists pay a lot of money to see wolves and this is a big economic impact on Alaska.