Tag Archives: frogs

There’s a Place for Wildlife on Your Tax Return

The deadline to file income tax returns is approaching. If you’re still working on yours, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds you that you can help save endangered plants and animals on your state return. Near the end of form 540, look for the section called Voluntary Contributions. There, you can donate any dollar amount to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403.

The Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and “fully protected” by the State of California. It is illegal to harass, pursue, hunt, catch, capture or kill, or attempt any of those actions on such listed species.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. CDFW’s half supports scientific research on the causes of mortality in sea otters, including a large analysis of 15 years of sea otter mortality data with critical support from the California Sea Otter Fund. CDFW scientists and their partners have also initiated a multi-agency outreach program called “Sea Otter Savvy” to educate coastal boaters, kayakers and the public about the impact of repeated human disturbance on sea otter health and survival. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/seaottersavvy.

The annual sea otter survey conducted in 2015 indicated that the population in California may be slowly increasing, to just over 3,000 animals. That is a small fraction of their historic numbers and this population is still vulnerable to oil spills, environmental pollution, predation by white sharks and other threats. You can help spread the word by liking and sharing the Sea Otter Fund Facebook page.

Since 1983, California taxpayers have voluntarily supported the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program by donating more than $21 million. That money has provided critical support for many state-listed species, including Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccose ssp. californica), Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti), Shoshone pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis Shoshone), Scripps’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi), Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae), and many-flowered navarretia (Navarretia leucocephala ssp. plieantha).

“From Death Valley National Park to North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, many parts of California are exploding with amazing wildflower displays right now, but California’s native plants don’t usually get as much attention as animals,” said Jeb Bjerke, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Native Plant Program. “Although many people think of California’s endangered species as animals, there are about twice as many listed plants. In addition, more than 1,000 plant species in California are rare but not listed. Our botanical diversity is astounding, and we are trying to protect that heritage from extinction.”

Voluntary contributions also help CDFW acquire federal matching funds, increasing the positive actions that can be done for rare, threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems that support them. Support from California taxpayers has enabled wildlife biologists to achieve important recovery milestones to conserve vulnerable species. Past contributors can take credit for helping the Peregrine falcon and California brown pelican enough to be removed from endangered species lists.

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403 or the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410. 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.

What you donate this year is tax deductible on next year’s return. More information on both the California Sea Otter Fund and the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation tax donation program is available on our Tax Donation webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Laird Henkel, Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726
Jeb Bjerke, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (plants), (916) 651-6594
Esther Burkett, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

California Red-Legged Frog Named State Amphibian

California now has an official state amphibian: the California red-legged frog

(Rana draytonii),a state species of special concern. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has worked for many years to conserve and restore populations of this rare species.

Brownish frog with an orange back sits on a piece of wood in a wetland
California red-legged frog, official State Amphibian. Photo by David Hacker, CDFW.
A brownish-green frog with a reddish underside blends into mud and vegetation
Juvenile CA red-legged frog near Livermore. Rhianna Lee/CDFW photo
A brown, black and coral-colored frog  on multi-colored fallen leaves
CA red-legged frog. Dave Feliz/CDFW photo
Masses of purple eggs cling to vegetation in brown wetland water
Masses of CA red-legged frog eggs in aquatic habitat near Arroyo del Oso. David Hacker/CDFW photo

By declaring the California red-legged frog the official state amphibian of California, the Legislature and Governor acknowledge the species’ important place in the ecology, culture and history of California. It also broadcasts and reinforces the state’s commitment to protecting its rare resources, which include amphibians.

Within California, it lives in various aquatic habitats from sea level to more than 5,000 feet in elevation, occupying a variety of aquatic habitats and their adjacent uplands in the coastal mountain ranges from southern Mendocino to northern Los Angeles counties and a few isolated areas in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It has been lost from most of Southern California, but some populations still persist in northwestern Baja California, Mexico. The California red-legged frog is the largest native frog in the western United States. Amphibians, especially frogs, provide an important function in aquatic ecosystems by eating insects and being a food source for other animals. They are also excellent indicators of the environmental quality of an area.

This species is the highly renowned frog that Mark Twain wrote about in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County in 1865. They were abundant until the 19th century Gold Rush, when the human population suddenly tripled, and the “forty-niners” nearly ate them into extinction at a rate of approximately 80,000 frogs per year. When the over-consumption of California’s native frogs created a shortage, food sellers introduced non-native bullfrogs to replace them in the frog leg (food) market. Now those bullfrogs have become widespread, and compete for the same food source thus threatening the native frog species’ existence.

The California red-legged frog is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, which prohibits them from being “taken” (harassed, harmed, pursued, hunted, shot, wounded, killed, trapped, captured or collected). It also prohibits adverse modification of their designated critical habitat without adequate mitigation.

The primary threat to California red-legged frog populations has been habitat loss. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the frog has seen a 70 percent reduction of its former geographic range, primarily due to conversion or degradation of habitat.

“We’ve learned a great deal about our impact on California species and their environment during the past century,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Rhianna Lee. “These frogs are unique members of their native ecosystems and the food web, evolving together so that all the pieces support each other for long-term survival. Removing one or more of the pieces can have a negative effect on the health of the environment.

Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2364 (V. Manuel Pérez, D-Indio) into law June 28. The proposal for a state amphibian was made by an after-school club at Sea View Elementary School in Salton City. Third grade students suggested the designation in a letter to Assemblyman Pérez.

Details about the California red-legged frog are on the web at http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=D02D.=

Media Contacts:
Laura Patterson, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 341-6981
Rhianna Lee, Nongame Wildlife Program, (209) 984-1007
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420