The skinned carcass of a sea otter was found on a California beach, and investigators are trying to determine how it died and who took the pelt.
Federal and state wildlife officials said in a statement Wednesday that the young-adult female Southern sea otter was found on a beach in San Simeon on Sept. 26. Animals and insects had already scavenged it. Investigators made the discovery public in their search for information on who may be responsible.
Federal wildlife forensics specialists are examining the body.
Southern sea otters, sometimes called California sea otters, are a threatened species — though not yet an endangered species — under federal law.
Killing one can mean fines up to $100,000, and taking its pelt without a permit is illegal, even if it's already dead.