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Tax Time is the Right Time to Help California’s Endangered Wildlife

As you gather your W-2 and other income tax paperwork, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hopes you will consider helping our state’s endangered plants, animals and fish when you file your state return.

The California Individual Income Tax Form 540 gives us all an opportunity to help our native wildlife—including plants and fish—by donating to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program and the California Sea Otter Fund in the Voluntary Contributions section of your state return. Any amount you contribute will support programs that benefit California species at risk of extinction. For most people, donations are tax-deductible the following year.

We live and work in one of the most biologically and geographically diverse states in North America—one reason California is such a nice place to live. But it is also the state with the largest human population, and many of our activities are detrimental to wildlife.

California has 220 plant species and 87 animal species listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Money raised through the tax contribution program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, as well as critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat. Habitat conservation and restoration for the most vulnerable species also protects many other plants and animals, helps recover ecosystem function and enhances the outdoor experience for all Californians.

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (RESP) on line 403 of yourtax return, has supported work benefiting California’s native at-risk fish, wildlife and plants since 1983. Donations to this fund by California taxpayers has enabled CDFW to obtain grant money from the federal government and collaborate with numerous stakeholders, agencies and other organizations to conserve native wildlife.

For example, with such partners we are currently:

  • investigating the impact that a deadly new fungus may have on native salamanders and ways to potentially manage infections,
  • reintroducing critically endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs to historically occupied areas,
  • assisting with development of a 10-year Recovery Action Plan for the San Francisco gartersnake and plans for future reintroductions,
  • investigating the impacts of insecticides on food resources, and breeding success of the threatened tricolored blackbird,
  • assisting with Mohave ground squirrel population monitoring at a long-term monitoring site near the Coso Range of Inyo county, and
  • coordinating development of a plan for the release of California condors into the Klamath region of northern California to help increase the breeding population and species distribution.

In 2018, the RESP voluntary donations helped provide endangered species protection for two species of plants, one bird and one mammal at risk of extinction: the tiny coast yellow leptosiphon (Leptosiphon croceus), known from only one population 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 a small forest carnivore, the Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis).

The RESP donations are also helping biologists evaluate whether two species of frogs warrant protection under the California Endangered Species Act.

Contributions to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 of your tax return are split between 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, San Francisco, Tomales and Morro bays. Reliable sources estimate there once were as many as 16,000 sea otters in California before fur traders hunted them to near-extinction in the 19th century. A few survived, were discovered in the 1930s, and quickly given legal protection. They are federally listed as threatened.

The Coastal Conservancy uses most of your donations for grants supporting research and conservation actions that facilitate recovery of California’s sea otter.  Research funded through this program has investigated factors limiting population growth and opportunities for range expansion to facilitate population recovery. Conservation actions funded have reduced threats to sea otters including:

  • reducing cyanobacteria blooms affecting otters, through management of water chemistry at Pinto Lake in Watsonville,
  • reducing vehicle strikes on otters, through installation of speed humps and signage on a coastal road in Moss Landing, and
  • reducing disturbance to sea otters by marine recreationists, through the Sea Otter Savvy

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

More than 16 million Californians file state tax returns each year. If each one donated just one dollar, we could solve many problems for our wildlife and ecosystems. It doesn’t take a large donation (although we dearly appreciate those!) to make a difference. The average voluntary contribution in 2018 was $15.

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.

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 TurboTax, step-by-step instructions to help you find the California Contribution Funds are posted in the CDFW Document Library.

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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

Californians Can Help Save Wildlife at Tax Time

You don’t have to own hiking boots or a fishing pole, or have a degree in environmental science to help wildlife. A click of your mouse or a stroke of your pen can help the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) protect—or even save—California’s native sea otters and other rare, threatened and endangered animal and plant species.

When you prepare your California individual income tax return, make a voluntary contribution to California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation on line 403. Enter any dollar amount you wish. Money donated by California taxpayers supports state programs that benefit these at-risk species.

Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) once lived in the nearshore waters all along California’s coast and in estuaries such as San Francisco, Tomales and Morro bays. Reliable sources estimate there were as many as 16,000 individual otters in California at one time. Their extremely thick fur pelts were coveted for coats, and fur traders hunted them until they were believed extinct in the late 1800s.

A few sea otters survived and were discovered in the 1930s. Legal protection gave the species a chance to survive. The 2017 sea otter survey counted fewer than 3,000 individuals, and was a slight decrease from the 2016 count.

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 Southern sea otters. Through a better understanding of the causes of death, it may be possible to work more effectively to recover the sea otter population here. The Southern sea otter 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.

“These donations provide important funding that helps us to recover the Southern sea otter population,” said CDFW sea otter program lead Laird Henkel. “Through this program, we have learned an incredible amount about sea otter health and the health of the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program has supported work benefiting California’s native at-risk fish, wildlife and plants since 1983, thanks to the generosity of California taxpayers. Donations to this fund have enabled CDFW to obtain matching funds from the federal government and collaborate with numerous stakeholders and organizations—including other government agencies—to conserve native wildlife.

For example, with such partners we are currently:

  • conducting surveys and helping to restore giant garter snake habitat at Cosumnes River Preserve near Lodi, a population that suffered significant declines during the recent drought.
  • developing conservation strategies that lay the groundwork to help conserve and recover imperiled species such as Mohave ground squirrels, willow flycatchers, great gray owls, western pond turtles and mountain yellow-legged frogs.
  • studying the dietary preferences of endangered marbled murrelets—forest-nesting seabirds of the north coast—to better understand factors that affect their survival and reproduction, and how changes in the climate may affect them.

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program also recently helped biologists learn about survey methods for the beautiful western yellow-billed cuckoo, and helped CDFW biologists monitor populations of invasive pennyroyal that are encroaching on the tiny and unique many-flowered navarretia (Navarretia leucocephala ssp. plieantha) at Loch Lomond Ecological Reserve in Lake County.

CDFW biologists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. There is no upper limit to voluntary contributions and any dollar amount is appreciated. More information about how CDFW uses funds in the Rare and Endangered Species and Sea Otter programs is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Tax-Donation and at www.facebook.com/SeaOtterFundCDFW.

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403. If you use TurboTax, step-by-step instructions to help you find the California Contribution Funds are posted in the CDFW Document Library.

California has 219 species of plants and 83 species of animals listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Money raised through the tax donation program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat. Habitat conservation and restoration for the most vulnerable species also protects many other plants and animals, helps recover ecosystem function and enhances the outdoor experience for all Californians.

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

There’s Still Time to Help Wildlife With Your State Income Tax Return

With tax returns due April 18, time is running out, but you can still help California’s rare, threatened and endangered species when you file your state return. In the Voluntary Contributions section you can donate any dollar amount to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 and the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403. These special funds help support California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) endangered species research and conservation programs.

California’s sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were driven nearly to extinction, then given legal protection that has allowed the population to grow. In recent years, that growth stagnated, and is just starting to grow again, to a few more than 3,000 sea otters in California waters. This small population is vulnerable to oil spills, chemicals and other pollutants in road and agricultural run-off, predation by white sharks and other threats.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. Those contributions have funded studies that link many sea otter deaths to polluted runoff, including fecal parasites, bacterial toxins and chemicals related to coastal land use.

The Southern sea otter is fully protected by the State of California, and take is not allowed except for scientific research and recovery purposes. Additionally, the sea otter is federally listed, and it is illegal to harass, pursue, hunt, catch, capture or kill, or attempt any of those actions on such listed species. Yet, just last year, four were shot and many others were intentionally harassed by people. The California Sea Otter Fund also supports a growing program to reduce human disturbance to sea otters.

Another 83 species of animals and 219 plants are listed by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. Donations to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (line 403) pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat.

Past donations to this program have enabled biologists to study the Livermore tarplant (Deinandra bacigalupii) and the critically endangered Slender-petaled mustard (Thelypodium stenopetalum), and implement conservation efforts for the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas),Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) and Desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius).

“There is no upper limit to voluntary contributions; any dollar amount is welcome. But, with so many species in need of conservation efforts and given the size of the Golden State, we’d like to encourage higher donations,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Esther Burkett. “Can Californians beat last year’s average of $15 per household? These plants and animals are part of our heritage and need your support to survive and thrive.”

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

CDFW biologists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. More information about how CDFW uses funds in the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program and Sea Otter program is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/tax-donation and at www.facebook.com/seaotterfundcdfw.

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Media Contact:
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.

Time’s Running Out to Help Endangered Species on Your Tax Return!

 

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

Californians have until April 16 to contribute to funds that benefit endangered wild plants and animals on their state income tax returns. By donating any amount (one dollar or more) you can support the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Fund and/or the California Sea Otter Fund. Make a voluntary contribution on line 403 and/or line 410 of your California tax return, and you will help save the western lily, southern sea otter and other species from extinction.

“These two funds have become especially vital during the current economic downturn, because other sources of support for these conservation and research programs have decreased or are no longer available,” said DFG Wildlife Biologist Esther Burkett. “There are no other dedicated state funding sources available to continue this important work.”

What you donate this year is tax deductible on next year’s return. More information on the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation tax check-off program is available at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck.

Many rare, threatened and endangered species have benefited from these voluntary contributions. DFG has been working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Humboldt State University, Redwood National and State Parks and other cooperators to study the nesting behavior and causes of nest failure for the forest-nesting marbled murrelet, a highly endangered seabird.

“The contributions of California’s taxpayers provide extra conservation power because we often use the funds to receive matching grants from the USFWS, providing even more support for species on the brink, such as the marbled murrelet,” said DFG Wildlife Biologist Esther Burkett.

There are 387 listed plant and animal species, from insects that provide essential ecosystem services to the iconic California condor and sea otter. Hundreds more are at risk. Money raised through the tax check-off program helps pay for important DFG research and recovery efforts, including protection of nesting sites for the California least tern, a small, migratory seabird that nests in remnant protected areas along California’s coast from our southern border to the San Francisco Bay Area. The terns are now beginning to arrive along our coast from their wintering grounds, just in time to remind tax filers that they can still help make a difference!

Since 1983, the tax check-off fund for Rare and Endangered Species has raised more than $18 million and supported numerous projects, including a captive breeding and release program for endangered riparian brush rabbits using a newly discovered population of wild rabbits. The critical support of California taxpayers has enabled wildlife biologists to achieve important recovery milestones to conserve our vulnerable species, and many species still need help.

In 2006 a second tax check-off fund was created specifically to facilitate recovery of the California sea otter, which is listed as a State Fully Protected Species and a Threatened Species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The most recent survey indicates there are fewer than 2,800 sea otters remaining in California. This small population is extremely vulnerable to oil spills, environmental pollution, predation by white sharks and other threats. Many sea otter deaths and ailments have been linked to pollution flowing from land to the sea, including fecal parasites, bacterial toxins and chemicals that have been linked to coastal land use.

According to DFG Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center Director Laird Henkel, donations to line 410 on state tax returns fund research such as a recent comparative study of sea otter food habits, behavior, health and survival in areas where there is high (Monterey) vs. low (Big Sur) human impact to the nearshore environment. Collaborative work among government, university and non-profit organizations ensures that the California Sea Otter Fund is used effectively to maximize the benefits to sea otter research and conservation.

You can support this research by making a contribution on line 410 of your state tax form 540, the California Sea Otter Fund. DFG works with Defenders of Wildlife to help promote the Sea Otter Fund. An excellent video about the sea otters’ current plight is on their website, http://www.defenders.org (keywords “tax check-off”).