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Wildlife officials trying to capture surfboard-stealing otter

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July 12 (UPI) -- Wildlife officials in California said they are attempting to capture and rehome a sea otter that has embarked on an unusual crime spree -- stealing surfboards.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the 5-year-old female, known as Otter 841, was observed stealing surfboards to ride the waves in Santa Cruz on at least three occasions during the weekend.

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The California sea otter, an endangered species, was born in captivity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but keepers took measures to attempt to prevent the animal from growing accustomed to humans, officials said.

The otter was released into the wild after being weaned, but in 2021 the animal was observed climbing onto watercraft including kayaks and surfboards.

Officials said the behavior increased over time and the otter has become more aggressive.

CDFW officials said Otter 841 will be returned to the Monterey Bay Aquarium until a permanent home can be found -- but they have to catch her first.

"She's been quite talented at evading us," Jessica Fujii, sea otter program manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, told The New York Times.

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