Tag Archives: native animal species

Time’s Running Out for Your Tax Return and Endangered Wildlife

The deadline is looming… how many days left until April 15? Never enough. But you’ll get it done. And when you do, you can support California’s rare, threatened and endangered wildlife species. As you near the end of your California Individual Income Tax Form 540, look for the Voluntary Contributions section. Enter any amount you would like to donate to the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) and/or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (line 403).

Any amount you contribute will support state programs that benefit California species at risk of extinction. For most people, donations are tax-deductible the following year.

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (RESP), has funded work benefiting California’s native at-risk plants, wildlife and fish since 1983. California taxpayers’ donations to this fund have enabled CDFW to obtain grant money from the federal government and collaborate with many other organizations to conserve native wildlife.

For example, CDFW is currently working on projects to save San Francisco garter snakes, tricolored blackbirds, salamanders, mountain yellow-legged frogs, Mohave ground squirrels and California condors.

Last year, the RESP voluntary donations helped provide endangered species protection for the tiny coast yellow leptosiphon (Leptosiphon croceus), which is only known to exist in San Mateo County; the beautiful Lassics lupine (Lupinus constancei), known from only two populations in the remote Lassics mountains of Humboldt and Trinity counties; the uniquely colonial tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), which is restricted almost entirely to California; and the Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis), a small forest carnivore.

Contributions to the California Sea Otter Fund are split between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the State Coastal Conservancy to benefit our Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population. The smallest marine mammal once lived in nearshore waters all along California’s coast and in estuaries such as Humboldt, Tomales, San Francisco and Morro bays. Now only 3,000 sea otters occupy a much smaller range. They are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and state regulations.

CDFW uses Sea Otter Fund donations for scientific research on the causes of death in California’s sea otters to help inform management actions to protect them.

The Coastal Conservancy uses most of your donations for grants supporting research and conservation actions that facilitate sea otter recovery. Some of that research has investigated factors limiting population growth and opportunities for range expansion to facilitate population recovery.

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 and/or the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410. If you use TurboTax, step-by-step instructions to help you find the California Contribution Funds are posted on the CDFW website.

CDFW biologists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. More information about how CDFW uses donated funds is at www.wildlife.ca.gov/tax-donation and at www.facebook.com/seaotterfundcdfw.

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

Be a Hero for Bats!

October 24-31 is Bat Week, an annual, international celebration of the role bats play in the natural world. Bats are truly amazing creatures. There are more than 1,400 species of bats in the world, about 20 percent of all mammal species. About two-thirds of bats are insectivorous. They consume between 50 and 100 percent of their own weight every night. They protect our food crops and timber industry—worth more than $57 billion per year—and if it weren’t for bats, farmers would surely use more chemical pesticides than they do now.

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Nationwide, the service bats provide by suppressing insect populations has been estimated worth something between $4 billion and $50 billion per year to American agriculture. CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Osborn notes, “Even the low end of that broad estimate, $4 billion, is an impressive amount. Bats are an important part of integrated pest management systems.”

Some bat species pollinate many species of plants throughout the world, including agave, the main ingredient in tequila. Even their guano (feces) is valuable. It provides rich fertilizer across the landscape and is important for cave ecosystems. Without bats, the invertebrates and microorganisms that live in caves and depend on bat guano—and the amphibians that de­pend on them—couldn’t thrive.

Bats have contributed to human well-being in other ways, too. Stroke victims have been saved by a synthesized anti-clotting enzyme found in bat spit. Research conducted on bats has also led to advancements in vaccine development, sonar, and more.

Unfortunately, population declines have caused 17 of California’s 25 native bat species to receive some level of state or federal protection.

In eastern North America, white-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats. It is caused by a fungus—Pseudogymno­ascus destructans—that grows in and on bats’ skin during winter hibernation and spreads quickly through bat colonies. The 2016 discovery of a bat with WNS in the State of Washington suddenly brought this unprecedented wildlife health crisis close to home.

The fungus has since been found at more sites in Washington. CDFW and its partners continue to do surveillance and response planning for the disease, which almost inevitably will be here in California before long.

Bats need our help. You can be a hero for bats by joining in the celebrations during Bat Week 2018 and beyond. Things a Bat Hero can do:

  1. Learn more about bats and teach others about how important they are;
  2. Take action to help protect bats and their habitat;
  3. If you drink tequila, keep an eye out for bat-friendly brands;
  4. Build and install a bat box on your property;
  5. Add bat-friendly plants to your garden; or
  6. Join a citizen-science bat monitoring project in your area.

There are many ideas for how you can be a Bat Hero at the Bat Week 2018 website, http://batweek.org. Look under the “Take Action” tab.

Please visit the website of Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. to review the letter he issued regarding Bat Week 2018.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 324-3564
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

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.