June 18, 2008

Seal Advocates Lose Fight at Calif. Beach

A federal appeals court has refused to order the city of San Diego to protect seals who have moved onto a popular beach.

Children's Pool Beach has become a flash point for those who favor seals and those who put a higher value on human access. A sea wall keeps surf out of the cove, but seal feces have kept bacteria levels so high that swimming has not been possible.

The Animal Protection and Rescue League wanted the city to place a rope barrier around the seals while they are giving birth.

But the 9th Circuit rejected the group's claim that the federal Marine Mammal and Protection Act trumps a 2005 ruling by a state judge ordering the city to reopen the cove to swimmers.

City officials said that any work at Children's Cove is unlikely to begin until November 2009. Superior Court Judge William Pate ordered the city to take reasonable steps to drive off the seals and make the water clean enough for swimming.