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.

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.

Help Save Endangered Species at Tax Time!

Media Contacts:
Esther Burkett, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3764
Melissa Miller, Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, (831) 469-1746
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

large black and brown raptor flying overhead

California Condor in flight over the Big Sur Coast. Carrie Battistone/DFG photo

Tiburon Mariposa lily (calichortus tiburonensis). Sam Abercrombie photo

Tiburon Mariposa lily (calichortus tiburonensis). Sam Abercrombie photo

Red fox standing in snow near tree

Sierra Nevada red fox, in Sonora Pass area of Mono County. CDFW photo

Sea otter floaring on its back in bay water

California (southern) sea otter in Monterey Bay. CDFW photo

Orange and yellow globe-like flower

Pitkin marsh lily, (lilium pardalinum), a state-listed endangered species. Roxanne Bittman/DFG photo

gray freshwater fish with salmon-colored sides and gills in clear stream

Rare Paiute cutthroat trout in a remote Alpine County stream. CDFW photo.

Two yellow-legged frogs on creek bank

Mountain Yellow-legged frogs (Rana sierrae) in the eastern Sierra Nevada. CDFW photo

Gray owl on tree branch

A great gray owl in Sierra National Forest near Oakhurst. Chris Stermer/CDFW photo

Lizard with leopard-like markings on a rock

Endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia silus).


California’s wild animals and plants need your help, and there’s an easy way to do it! Just make a voluntary contribution on line 403 and/or line 410 of your state income tax return (Form 540). By contributing any amount over one dollar you can support the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Fund and/or the California Sea Otter Fund. What you donate this year is tax deductible on next year’s return. Californians can receive state income tax credit from the Franchise Tax Board for helping wildlife.

“The voluntary contributions Californians make at tax time are incredibly helpful in our efforts to save threatened and endangered species,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “These funds have provided critical support for many state-listed species, including the Tiburon mariposa lily, Owens pupfish, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, mountain yellow-legged frog, great gray owl, Sierra Nevada red fox and many more. These donations help protect California’s exceptional biodiversity.”

There are 387 listed plant and animal species in the state, from little “bugs” that most of us have never heard of, to the iconic California sea otter. Money raised through the tax check-off program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts, and critical updates on the status of state-listed species to help assure their conservation.

California is one of 41 states that allows taxpayers to make voluntary, tax-deductible contributions to worthwhile causes on their state returns. Since 1983, the tax check-off fund for Rare and Endangered Species has raised more than $18 million and supported numerous projects, including surveys for the endangered Sierra Nevada red fox. Support from California taxpayers has enabled wildlife biologists to achieve important recovery milestones to conserve vulnerable species.

More information on the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation tax check-off program is available at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck.

A second tax check-off fund was created in 2006 specifically to facilitate recovery of the California sea otter, which is listed as a Fully Protected Species under the state law and threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. According to the most recently completed survey, 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. Many sea otter deaths have been linked to pollution flowing from land to the sea, including fecal parasites, bacterial toxins, road and agricultural run-off, and chemicals linked to coastal land use.

According to CDFW Wildlife Veterinarian and lead sea otter pathologist Melissa Miller, the California Sea Otter Fund provides essential funding to help state scientists better understand and trace the causes of sea otter mortality, identify factors limiting population growth and collaborate with other organizations to prevent the pollution of California’s nearshore marine ecosystem. This fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from taxpayers of the state of California. The California Sea Otter Fund has become especially vital during the current economic downturn, because other sources of support for sea otter conservation and research have decreased or disappeared entirely. There are no other dedicated state funding sources available to continue this important work.

You can support this research by making a contribution on line 410 of your state tax form 540, the California Sea Otter Fund. CDFW works with the California Coastal Conservancy, Friends of the Sea Otter, Defenders of Wildlife and others to promote the Sea Otter Fund. Visit the website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck and our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SeaOtterFundCDFW.

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