Surfboard-stealing Otter 841 keeps outsmarting California authorities trying to catch her

A California sea otter with a reputation for harassing surfers has successfully evaded multiple attempts to capture her — including authorities trying to lure her using a surfboard, her favorite object to snatch from humans.

"There were multiple attempts to use her unnatural behavior to our benefit," the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Jessica Fujii told USA TODAY.

A crew of wildlife experts have tried to capture the animal, dubbed Otter 841, multiple times, using different nets, she said.

Wildlife experts searching for Otter 841 know where she is, they just haven't been able to capture the "nimble and fast" animal yet, said Kevin Connor, an aquarium spokesperson. The otter is wearing a radio transmitter tag, he said.

An otter displating aggressive behavior hops onto a surf board in Santa Cruz, California.

"Going out to find her is not a major issue, but recapturing her is a challenge due to her huge advantage in the water and changing conditions in the ocean," Connor said.

Until the team captures the furry critter, humans in the area may face more surfboard and paddle board snatchings.

Otter 841's "concerning and unusual behaviors" accelerated earlier this summer, when she stole several surfboards from humans in the ocean. Videos shows the animal wrestling the boards away and climbing atop them.

If Otter 841 is caught by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the aquarium team, she'll be examined and eventually permanently settled at a zoo or aquarium that has the capacity to house her, officials told USA TODAY.

Watch Otter 841 evade capture in Santa Cruz here:

Why has Otter 841 not been captured yet?

Otter 841 has evaded multiple attempts by crews to capture her using nets. She has also approached crews trying to lure her with a surfboard, but managed to swim away each time.

"Knowing her affinity to surfboards and paddle boards, there has been some use of boards to try to attract her," Fujii said.

Wildlife experts searching for Otter 841 are facing a unique challenge, because typically when they work to capture otters in the wild, they're dealing with an injured otter or one whose health is poor, Connor said.

But Otter 841 seems to be in great shape.

"841 would appear to be a very healthy otter and therefore really good at being able to evade capture," Connor said.

There have been some days where poor visibility in the water prevented crews from searching for Otter 841. The low water clarity was normal for the area, and wasn't caused by adverse weather, Fujii said.

Otter 841 is growing weary of surfboards, aquarium worker says

Each time search crews have used a surfboard or paddle board to try to attract Otter 841, she shows interest but then backs off, Fujii said.

"While she has been interested, she's also becoming weary," she said. "So in some ways this is a good thing. Hopefully this will discourage her from approaching the general public on the water."

Otter will be permanently removed from the wild

As of this summer, there is no other case of an otter stealing surfboards or other items from humans along the California coast, Connor said. That makes Otter 841 highly unique.

Because Otter 841's unusual and atypical behavior has put herself and humans in harm's way, wildlife officials decided she must be removed from the wild. Otters have sharp teeth and incredibly strong jaws they use to open shellfish.

"The goal is the safe capture of this female otter due to potential public safety risk," said Ashley McConnell, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in California.

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