There’s still time to help endangered wildlife with your tax return

Media Contacts:
Esther Burkett, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 531-1594
Melissa Miller, Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, (831) 469-1746
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

The Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds taxpayers there is an easy way to contribute to recovery of rare, threatened and endangered species. Donations may be made to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403, or to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 in the Voluntary Contributions section of Form 540.

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From mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet to the lowest elevation in North America and our nearshore marine environment, California has more types of wildlife habitat, geography and climate than any other U.S. state. That variety supports tremendous biological diversity: more than 5,000 native plants and more than 1,000 native animal species. At least one-third of our native plants and two-thirds of the animals are endemic species – species that occur nowhere else in the world. And more than 300 of them are threatened or endangered.

Contributions to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation fund (line 403) have supported breeding site protection and population monitoring for California least terns, population assessment and genetic studies of Sierra Nevada red foxes, population monitoring of marbled murrelets, studies of murrelet predators, range-wide surveys for the Belding’s savannah sparrow, and similar studies of peninsular bighorn sheep.

The fund has paid for a number of projects benefitting plants, including reintroductions of species such as large-flowered fiddleneck, of which there are fewer than five known remaining populations. It has also supported habitat restoration, such as at coastal dunes of the North Spit of Humboldt Bay, management planning for species such as striped adobe lily and pallid manzanita, and ongoing status evaluations for state-listed plant species.

California’s sea otters were driven nearly to extinction, then given legal protection that has allowed the population to grow. But in recent years, that growth has stagnated, and there are fewer than 3,000 sea otters in California waters. This small population is vulnerable to oil spills, environmental pollution, predation by white sharks and other threats.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) have funded studies that showed many sea otter deaths have been related to polluted runoff, including fecal parasites, bacterial toxins, and chemicals linked to coastal land use.

If you itemize deductions, that donation will be tax deductible next year. If someone else does your tax return, please tell your tax preparer you want to make these contributions

More information on the tax check-off program for both the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program and California Sea Otter Fund is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck. Please LIKE our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SeaOtterFundCDFW.

Sea Otter Awareness Week is Sept. 23-29

Sept. 20, 2012
Media Contacts:

Michael Harris, DFG-OSPR Scientific Branch, (805) 772-1135
Colleen Young, DFG-OSPR Scientific Branch, (831) 469-1740
Mary Fricke, DFG-OSPR Public Affairs, 916-327-9948

Celebrate Sea Otter Awareness Week with the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG)! The last full week of each September numerous organizations work to educate, inform and entertain the public with sea otter-related activities.

This year DFG is celebrating the birth of a pup to “Olive” (the once-oiled otter). This is a milestone in oiled wildlife rehabilitation because it is believed to be the first time a previously oiled sea otter in California has given birth to a pup. About half of all pups don’t make it to weaning, so scientists won’t call it a true success until this pup is a weaned, healthy thriving sea otter. DFG staff have been monitoring Olive ever since she was rescued, cleaned, rehabilitated and released in spring 2009 and will continue to do so from a safe distance, without disturbing mother and pup. DFG’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) has created a Facebook page to follow her progress (http://www.facebook.com/OlivetheOiledOtter).

Specific upcoming events related to Sea Otter Awareness Week include the following:

  • Wildlife Veterinarian Melissa Miller will make a Sea Otter Awareness Week presentation at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. Dr. Miller will explain how DFG scientists use “CSI” procedures to identify the diseases, parasites and environmental problems affecting sea otters in California’s waters.
  • DFG Biologist Colleen Young will demonstrate the equipment she uses to track sea otters in Capitola from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25 and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27. Meet her at the picnic tables at “The Hook” (the corner of East Cliff Dr. and 41st Ave.).
  • On Sept. 27, two otter lectures will be held at the Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz. Stori Oates, who works for DFG and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, will present The Land-Sea Connection: What Southern Sea Otters Can Tell Us About Coastal Health. Lectures begin at 7 p.m.

Other events celebrating the Central Coast’s most famous marine residents include free public lectures at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz (http://seymourcenter.ucsc.edu/), a kayak tour at Elkhorn Slough, and otter-themed activities at the Marine Mammal Center, California Academy of Sciences, Estuary Nature Center in Morro Bay, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the Aquarium of the Pacific and Sea World San Diego. The Friends of the Sea Otter website provides further details and dates at http://www.seaotterweek.org/#!events/cmm9.

Sea Otter Awareness Week serves to remind people to watch out for –­ and keep their distance from ­– sea otters when boating, paddling, or surfing on the Central Coast. Be especially careful in kelp beds, as otters wrap themselves and their pups in kelp on the surface to sleep and keep from drifting away. The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires people on the water to stay far enough from the animals (at least 50 yards) to not cause them to change their behavior. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a handbook for ocean users at http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/outreach/pdfs/wildlife_watching_handbook.pdf.

Sea otters are an indicator species – that is, their health and population reflect the health of our nearshore ecosystem, from kelp forests to fisheries. They once numbered between several hundred thousand and more than a million, worldwide. The fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries caused sea otter populations to collapse, and by the early 1900s, the California sea otter population was thought extinct. In 1938 a small remnant population of otters was discovered off the Big Sur coast. Protection under the Endangered Species Act and the efforts of many Californians have helped increase that population, but they are far from full recovery. The 2012 spring population survey by DFG-OSPR, the U.S. Geological Survey and Monterey Bay Aquarium produced a population index of 2,792 sea otters in California. This indicates their population  growth is much slower than it should be after years of no growth and decades of slow recovery.

DFG scientists are working to identify the cause of this plateau and find solutions to get the sea otter population growing again. California taxpayers can support DFG’s sea otter program by making voluntary contributions to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 of their state income tax returns. More information on this program is posted at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck/.

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Please do not reply to this e-mail.DFGNews@dfg.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

Subscribe to DFG News via e-mail or RSS feed. Go to www.dfg.ca.gov/news.

Like DFG on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFG and the California Sea Otter Fund at www.facebook.com/CalSeaOtterFundDFG.

DFG Launches Science Institute to Showcase Decades of Scientific Work and Support its Scientific Future

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, DFG Deputy Director, (916) 654-9937

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) publicly announced the first phase of its new Science Institute, available for viewing at www.dfg.ca.gov/Science.

“This website is the first part of a multi-phase approach intended to highlight the exceptional work that DFG scientists have been doing for many, many years and support our scientific future,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of DFG. “Our goal is that this Institute will help develop our current scientists professionally, by increasing skills, resources, collaboration and notoriety, as well as attract new scientists to help us plan for the years ahead.”

The website launch is phase one of the Institute. Future phases will include an archive of scientific presentations, professional development tools, better access for DFG scientists to outside science and scientific literature, a science symposium and much more.

Director Bonham prepared a video message for this website launch which can be viewed at http://youtu.be/S2Injj4sWx8.

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