Barrier allowed on beach to protect seals

March 11, 2008 5:25:20 AM PDT

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the rope barrier at the La Jolla beach can stay until the breeding season ends in May while the court considers whether it should be permanent.

Residents argue the rope barrier violates a 1931 deed requiring the city to preserve for human use the picturesque cove known as the Children's Pool.

Two state court judges and two state appellate courts have ruled the rope interferes with the public access. San Diego has been under court order to evict the seals and dredge the sand to make the beach safe for children.

The San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League has challenged those rulings in federal court. The group argues the rules of the state trust governing the cove are trumped by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Pro-seal activists sell seal T-shirts, stuffed animals and picture books on the sidewalk above the beach - and also monitor crowds to make sure no one is bothering the lumbering animals.