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Ninth Circuit Orders|Rope Barrier For Seals

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Animal-rights activists won a victory with a 9th Circuit emergency order that requires the city of San Diego to replace a rope barrier separating sightseers from nursing harbor seals and their pups at the Children's Pool in La Jolla. more

The court issued an emergency order instructing the city to put up the rope until the breeding season ends in May. The ruling overturns Superior Court Judge Yuri Hoffman's ruling in January that the city must abide by a 2005 order barring it from establishing a barrier between the seals and beach-goers.

The emergency order is the latest in a contentious battle between the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League and residents of La Jolla who claim a 1931 trust agreement requires the city to preserve the beach as a children's pool. The animal-rights group claimed the historical agreement, as interpreted by a state judge, violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Two state court judges and two appellate courts have sided with the residents, and San Diego has been ordered to kick out the seals and clean up the area to make it safe for kids.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently asked the city to use a rope barrier to keep the children and other swimmers from disturbing nursing seals and their pups.

In a related case, a 54-year-old man was indicted with threatening an animal-rights volunteer who had videotaped two divers harassing a pod of seals at the Children's Pool. After she reported the incident to federal authorities, someone using the pseudonym "Biker Bobbie" wrote an e-mail to the league saying his biker buddies would have their revenge.

"Motorcycle club members have been contacted about (the volunteer), and she will be dealt with harshly, if not killed," the e-mail states.

Local police and the FBI reportedly traced the e-mail account to Kent Douglas Trego, one of the divers on the volunteer's videotape. Trego was charged with one count of threatening to retaliate against a federal witness and two counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce.

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