Tag Archives: protecting wildlife

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.



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

DFG Reminds People to Leave Bear Cubs Alone

Marc Kenyon, DFG Statewide Bear Program Coordinator, (916) 445-3515
Kevin Brennan, DFG Environmental Scientist, (760) 749-3270
Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is reminding people who see bear cubs to leave them alone. Even if they appear orphaned, the most appropriate thing to do is to leave them in the wild.

Bear cub exploring the water

Throughout the year, sows teach their young to gather food and eat what is available in their natural habitats. By fall, cubs can survive even if they are completely separated from her.

“Sows normally wean their cubs around the beginning of August,” said DFG Statewide Bear Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon. “Depending on the sow’s parenting ability, these cubs have already learned how to fend for themselves. Plus, bears of this age are extremely resourceful, making their chances of surviving on their own relatively good.”

Approximately 40 percent of bear cubs die in their first year. Those that survive are driven off by their mothers at approximately 18 months of age.

By Aug. 1, California’s black bear cubs are roughly 5 months of age. Research and DFG’s experience over the decades indicates that while orphaned cub survival is lower than that of cubs with sows, cubs this age can survive on their own.

The DFG’s policy regarding orphaned cubs favors leaving them alone unless they are obviously sick or in dire need of assistance. The DFG assesses cubs on a case-by-case basis for diseases, parasites, overall condition and human habituation.

The alternatives to leaving a cub in the wild are limited, and include temporarily holding a cub in a captive facility until winter sets in, placing it in a long-term captive facility such as a zoo, or euthanasia. Reducing wildlife to captivity is inconsistent with the DFG’s goal to keeping wildlife in the wild, where they can behave naturally.

With approximately 30,000 black bears in the state, encounters between people and bears are becoming more commonplace. In order to keep bears in the wild, where they belong, it is important that residents and visitors in black bear habitat stash their food and trash properly. Feeding wildlife is harmful to wild animals and illegal.

DFG Advises Californians to Leave Young Wildlife Alone

Nicole Carion, DFG Statewide Coordinator for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Restricted Species, (530) 357-3986
Kyle Orr, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8958

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) recommends that people not handle any young wild animals they see in the outdoors. The improper handling of young wildlife is a problem in California and across the nation, most commonly in the spring, when many species are caring for their offspring.

People frequently encounter young wild animals they think need assistance or have been orphaned. However, in most cases neither assumption is true and the animals should be left alone. In 2009, 537 fawns were turned into California rehabilitation facilities by well-meaning members of the public. Many of these fawns were healthy and should not have been disturbed.

“Don’t pick up a healthy fawn and become what wildlife experts refer to as a “fawn-napper,” said Nicole Carion, DFG’s statewide coordinator for wildlife rehabilitation and restricted species. “If you see a fawn by itself, leave the area and do not attract attention to it. Its mother will not return if you are close by.”

Once a fawn is removed from its mother, it can lose its ability to survive in the wild. The same danger applies to most animals, including bears, coyotes, raccoons and most birds.

Disease is another reason that wild animals should not be handled. Wild animals can transmit diseases that can be contracted by humans, including rabies and tularemia, and also carry ticks, fleas and lice.

The responsibility for intervention should be left to DFG personnel or permitted wildlife rehabilitators. It is illegal to keep orphaned or injured animals for more than 48 hours in California. People can call a rehabilitator, who will determine whether there is a need for a rescue. Rehabilitators are trained to provide care for wild animals so they retain their natural fear of humans and do not become habituated or imprinted. For more information on wildlife rehabilitation, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/rehab/facilities.html.

Remember: Wildlife belongs in the wild. As wildlife experts say: “If you care, leave them there.”