Saving endangered species from extinction takes a lot of work, but you don’t have to do much to help. Simply making a voluntary contribution on your state income tax return helps the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) do the heavy lifting. Just enter a whole dollar amount on line 403 for the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program, and on line 410 for the California Sea Otter Fund.
“Thanks to our wise and generous donors, CDFW has accomplished many conservation actions,” CDFW Environmental Program Manager Karen Miner said. “Yet, much remains to be done for a number of threatened and endangered species in California. Additional funding is needed for us to keep making progress. I hope more Californians will donate and our donors will consider increasing their contribution this year, and spread the word to family, friends and neighbors.”
Taxpayers’ donations make more of a positive difference than you might think, because contributions help CDFW acquire federal matching funds, furthering the positive actions that can be done for threatened and endangered species and their habitat.
CDFW biologists have been able to achieve important recovery milestones and conserve vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. 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.
The state has listed more than 200 species of plants and 80 species of animals 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.
Among other things, past donations to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program have funded monitoring programs for several endangered species populations.
CDFW is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and others to develop and implement conservation actions such as disease treatment, captive rearing, reintroductions and habitat restoration for three high-risk species of Sierra Nevada amphibians: the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus), southern mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae).
CDFW biologists also worked with Yosemite National Park to conduct remote camera surveys for fisher (Pekania pennanti), and with multiple partners to prepare a conservation plan for fisher in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. The fisher is a rare forest carnivore with dark brown fur, and is related to mink and sea otters.
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 (Enhydra lutris nereis). In addition to working on a large analysis of 15 years of mortality data, CDFW scientists are conducting research on little-known viruses, parasites and biotoxins that may be harming sea otters. Through a better understanding of the causes of mortality, it may be possible to work more effectively to recover the sea otter population here.
If someone else prepares your state tax return, 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.