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September 8 2012
After not being seen for more than 30 years, the Japanese river otter (Lutra lutra whiteleyi) has been declared extinct by the country’s Ministry of the Environment, which also last week declared several other species extinct.
Once numbering in the millions, Japanese river otters—a subspecies of the European or Eurasian otter (L. lutra)—were overhunted for their fur, most of which was sold to foreign traders, and further suffered when their habitats became developed and polluted. The animals grew to about a meter in length and subsisted mainly on fish and shrimp.
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