04 April 2020 |

Help Prevent Wildlife Extinction When Filing Your Tax Return

Written by kmacinty
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Extinction is forever, but you and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) can join forces to prevent it. Help save California’s native plant and animal species when you file your state income tax return by making a voluntary contribution to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program and/or the California Sea Otter Fund.

Just enter any dollar amount you wish on line 403 for rare and endangered species and on line 410 for southern sea otters. Money donated by California’s taxpayers supports programs that benefit these at-risk species, while also helping to conserve many other species.

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Even a small donation will make a difference. Voluntary contributions also help CDFW acquire federal matching funds for efforts to conserve threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

Donations to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program have funded work benefiting California’s imperiled plants, wildlife and fish since 1983, and the funds have enabled CDFW to collaborate with many other organizations to conserve native species. With 311 state-listed species to recover, plus an additional 143 species that are only federally listed, there is much work to be done as we strive to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems.

Recent recovery actions by CDFW and other partners include projects to save giant garter snakes, Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders, foothill yellow-legged frogs, Mohave ground squirrels, riparian brush rabbits and California condors. These projects include:

  • Restoring freshwater marsh habitat for an isolated population of the threatened giant garter snake that was once the most robust site in the species’ range but suffered a 90 percent decline during the last drought.
  • Planning recovery actions for the endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, including introductions into currently unoccupied habitat.
  • Completed a Status Review report for the foothill yellow-legged frog in 2019 that resulted in listing 5 of 6 genetic clades under the California Endangered Species Act, and currently working with multiple partners on ways to conserve and recover the species.
  • Completed a Conservation Strategy report for the Mohave ground squirrel in 2019 that will help guide conservation and recovery actions for this desert-dwelling species which still faces the ongoing threat of habitat loss due to urban and rural development, agriculture, military operations, energy development, transportation infrastructure and mining.
  • Completed a Five-Year Species Review report in February 2020 for the listed riparian brush rabbit which recommended retaining state-endangered status. The report noted that management for the species must address the range-wide risk of flooding by securing flood-safe riparian habitat adjacent to existing local populations.
  • CDFW continued to work with the California condor recovery group to help increase the number of condors in the wild in California, Baja, Arizona and Utah. In California, the wild, free-flying population size of this iconic and highly endangered species was estimated at 200 birds in 2019. Throughout the range of the species, the wild population has steadily risen from 181 in 2010, to 337 in 2019.

Additionally, last year, the voluntary donations for rare and endangered species helped fund surveys and monitoring for some of California’s most imperiled but also less-studied plant species, including the tiny and beautiful Clara Hunt’s milkvetch, which is only known to grow at six small populations in Napa and Sonoma counties, and the San Bernardino bluegrass, a rare grass that is only found in moist meadows in some Southern California mountains.

Contributions to the California Sea Otter Fund are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy to benefit our Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population. This smallest of marine mammals once lived in nearshore waters all along California’s coast and in estuaries such as Humboldt, Tomales, San Francisco and Morro bays. Now only about 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 its portion 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, and conservation actions have included efforts to reduce human disturbance to sea otters.

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let them 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, go to the Contributions section (Side 4 of Form 540) to make a voluntary contribution. Thank you for helping to save our most vulnerable plant and wildlife species for their ecological values and for enjoyment by future generations.

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Media Contacts:
Laird Henkel, CDFW Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726

Esther Burkett, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Jeb Bjerke, CDFW Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (plants), (916) 376-8675 
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

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