There’s Still Time to Help Endangered Species on Your Tax Return!

Media Contacts:
Laird  Henkel, Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726
Esther Burkett, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

a sea otter in greenish waters off California

Sea otter in California waters. CDFW photo

red fox pounces on something beneath the snow

Sierra Nevada red fox, in Sonora County. CDFW photo

bright orange, trumpet-shaped flowers on a green-stemmed shrub

Large-flowered fiddleneck. Susan Cochrane/CDFW photo

A California condor spreads its wings while standing atop a post

California condor at Pinnacles National Monument. Carie Battistone/CDFW photo

Desert tortoise on dry, rocky desert floor

Desert tortoise in southern California. Rebecca Barboza/CDFW photo

two yellow-legged frogs at the edge of a bubbling stream

Mountain yellow-legged frogs. CDFW photo

a flock of sandhill cranes feeding in wetland, all colored a pinkish-coral by sunrise

Greater sandhill cranes in central California. Bob Burkett photo

yellow flower on green stalk with green leaves on sandy Lake Tahoe beach

Tahoe Yellow Cress. © Aaron E. Sims and CNPS

A popular 1970s bumper sticker said, “Support wildlife…Throw a party!” Now you can support wildlife and throw a party. Just make a voluntary contribution on your California income tax return!  The April 15 due date for income tax returns is nearing, but if you haven’t filed yours yet, it’s not too late to use it to help wildlife.

By donating any whole dollar amount to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 of your tax return, you will help pay for research by scientists at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). They are studying premature deaths within our sea otter population and finding that there are many contributing factors, some of which are man-made. With enough funding, they should be able to determine the primary causes, then work to develop solutions that will allow the sea otter population to grow at the rate it should.

Another 80 species of animals and more than 200 plants are listed by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. Donations to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Fund on line 403 of your income tax form pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat.

“We work with other organizations, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UC and Cal State Universities, California’s state and national parks, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, and many other organizations to stretch the donations as far as we can,” said CDFW Wildlife Biologist Esther Burkett. “In the Rare and Endangered Species Programs, we’ve leveraged those donations to receive federal matching funds so we can do even more for wildlife.”

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please tell him or her you want to contribute to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 and/or the Rare and Endangered Species Protection Program on line 403. If you use Turbo Tax, when you’re near the end of your tax return it should ask if you want to make a voluntary contribution to a special fund. Click “Yes” and go to lines 403 and 410.

These funds consist entirely of voluntary contributions from California taxpayers. There are no other dedicated state funding sources available for this important work. Please visit the website at www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SeaOtterFundCDFW for more information.

Volunteers Needed for Bighorn Sheep Survey

Three agencies working to survey bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel Mountains are seeking volunteers to assist in the annual sheep count.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep are seeking individuals to assist biologists March 1-2, 2014 (Saturday evening and all day Sunday).

No survey experience is necessary to participate but volunteers must attend a mandatory orientation on Saturday, March 1 at 6 p.m. at the Angeles National Forest Supervisor’s Office in Arcadia.

Volunteers will hike to designated observation sites in the San Gabriel Mountains early Sunday morning to count and record bighorn sheep. Volunteer groups will be led by a representative from either CDFW, USFS or the Society. Participants must be at least 16 years old and capable of hiking one mile in rugged terrain, although some survey routes are longer. In general, hikes will not be along trails and accessing survey points will involve scrambling over boulders, climbing up steep slopes and/or bush-whacking through chaparral.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes in addition to hiking gear. Mountain weather can be unpredictable and participants should be prepared to spend several hours hiking and additional time making observations in cold and windy weather. Volunteers will need to start hiking early Sunday morning.

For volunteers who wish to camp, complimentary campsites will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Applewhite Campground in Lytle Creek on the night of March 1, 2014.

Surveys for bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel range have been conducted annually since 1979. The mountain range once held an estimated 740 sheep, which made the San Gabriel population the largest population of desert bighorn sheep in California. The bighorn population declined more than 80 percent through the 1980s but appears to be on the increase with recent estimates yielding approximately 400 animals.

Please sign up online at http://www.sangabrielbighorn.org/San_Gabriel_Bighorn_Sheep_Home.html . If you do not have access to the internet, you may call either (909) 627-1613 or (909) 584-9012 to receive a volunteer packet.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
John Miller, USFS Communications, (909) 382-2788
Norm Lopez, Society for Conservation (805) 431-2824

A bighorn sheep ram on a hill overlooking desert

Bighorn sheep

CDFW Creates First Bighorn Sheep Herd in 25 Years

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), along with volunteers from around the state, has established a new herd of federally endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

“This is the first reintroduction effort of a new herd of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep since 1988,” said Tom Stephenson, CDFW bighorn recovery program leader.

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Historically, Sierra bighorn were abundant throughout the Sierra Nevada; however, by the 1970s, only two herds remained. Disease spread by domestic sheep and unregulated commercial hunting are believed to have caused their demise.

“Many endangered species remain on the brink of extinction with poor prospects for recovery after they receive federal protection,” said Stephenson. “Through our conservation efforts, we have a unique opportunity to reach recovery goals for an alpine specialist that is native only to California.”

During the week of March 25, 2013 10 female and four male bighorn sheep were captured from two of the largest existing herds in the Sierra Nevada and reintroduced to the vacant herd unit of Olancha Peak at the southern end of the range in Inyo County.  Six additional females were moved to two small northern herds, Convict Creek and Mount Gibbs, for augmentation of those herds.

Following this recent effort, there are now 10 herds of Sierra bighorn between Owens Lake and Mono Lake. Three additional herds are needed to meet recovery goals. The population currently numbers around 500 animals and is up considerably from a low of just over 100 animals.

A video news story is available at http://youtu.be/5KOMCxxTL6U

Note: High-resolution photos and video are available for use at ftp://ftp.dfg.ca.gov/oceo

Media Contacts:
Tom Stephenson, CDFW Wildlife Supervisor, (760) 873-4305
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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