Laird Henkel, Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726
Esther Burkett, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420
California’s wild plants and animals need your help, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) makes it easy for you. When you prepare your California individual income tax return, simply make a voluntary contribution on line 403 and/or line 410 of Form 540. By donating any number of dollars you can support the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Fund and/or the California Sea Otter Fund. What you donate this year may be deductible on next year’s tax return.
“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 greater sandhill crane, desert tortoise, large-flowered fiddleneck, riparian brush rabbit, California condor, Owens pupfish and many more. These donations help us protect California’s exceptional biodiversity.”
More than 200 species of plants and 80 species of animals are listed by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. Money raised through the tax check-off program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat.
For example, since 1983 the tax check-off fund for Rare and Endangered Species has raised more than $18 million and supported numerous projects, including intensive recovery efforts for California condors and the Owens pupfish. The Condor Recovery Program oversees research on condors in captivity and in the wild. The program works to develop protocols for the captive breeding program, identify research needs, address threats to condors in the wild, and manage the captive and wild populations. It is because of this monumental effort that more than 100 condors are flying free in California today.
Support from California taxpayers has enabled wildlife biologists to achieve important recovery milestones to conserve vulnerable species. More information about how CDFW uses funds in the tax check-off program is available at 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 state law and threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. According to the 2013 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.
Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund support research by CDFW scientists, who have discovered that a substantial proportion of sea otter mortality has been caused by diseases, parasites and toxins. In the last decade, connections to many of the things that make sea otters sick and kill them in the ocean have been related to human activities on land. The cumulative effects of various types of pollution are contributing to the premature deaths of otters that should live longer and produce more pups.
This fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from taxpayers of the state of California. There are no other dedicated state funding sources available to continue this important work. CDFW works with the California Coastal Conservancy, Friends of the Sea Otter, Defenders of Wildlife and others to promote the Sea Otter Fund. Please visit the website at www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SeaOtterFundCDFW.
If someone else prepares your state tax return, please tell him or her if you want to make a voluntary contribution to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 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.