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Remember California's Endangered Species at Tax Time

You can help endangered species by making a donation 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 your California Income Tax Form.And if you itemize deductions, that donation will be tax deductible the following year. Remember to tell your tax preparer you want to make these contributions.

California, with all its geographic variety, has tremendous biological diversity. Our state supports more than 5,000 native plants and more than 1,000 native animal species. At least one third of the plants and two thirds of the animals are endemic species – species that occur nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately, many of them have been pushed to the brink of extinction.

Of all these species, more than 300 are designated by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. Loss of habitat, water management conflicts, invasive species, poaching and climate change are the greatest threats to their long-term survival. These plant and animal populations are part of California’s natural ecosystems and our heritage. They need your help to survive and thrive as they did before millions of humans moved here.

Past contributions to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Fund have supported CDFW scientists’ work to identify and mitigate (where possible) the conditions and activities that threaten these species’ populations. This work has helped protect hundreds of endangered plants and animals in California. Two formerly listed endangered species – the California brown pelican and Peregrine falcon – made such a comeback that they were de-listed in recent years. (They’re still a protected species, but in less danger than before.)

By donating whatever you can afford – even if only a few dollars – you will ensure that critical habitat for endangered species is conserved and enhanced. You will contribute to the protection and scientific management of these plants and animals for the future.

The California Sea Otter Fund, added to the tax check-off program in 2006, provides crucial support for the CDFW scientists investigating our sea otters’ failure to thrive.

California’s southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were thought to be extinct during the early 20th century until 1938, when a small population was discovered near Big Sur. Their numbers slowly increased and they were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1977. They are also protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and have California’s fully protected species status.

The population gradually grew to 2,000 animals, and has fluctuated between 2,000 and 3,000 since 1995. They reached a population plateau. Sea otters are “stuck in recovery” largely due to high death rates of prime-aged adults.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund have supported research by CDFW scientists, who have discovered that a substantial proportion of sea otter mortality has been caused by diseases, parasites and toxins. In the last decade, connections to many of the things that make sea otters sick and kill them in the ocean have been related to human activities on land. The cumulative effects of various types of pollution are contributing to premature deaths of otters that should live longer and produce more pups.

CDFW scientists have identified these causes thanks to past tax check-off donations to the Sea Otter Fund. If you contribute even a few dollars when you file your state income tax return, you will help make more of this research possible and – we all hope – find ways to help these iconic creatures return to their historic numbers.

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Contributions portion of California Tax Form 540

black and white seabird chick

Help California’s Rare Plants at Tax Time Donate on Line 403 of your California Tax Return - link opens in new window

California Sea Otter Fund Poster - link opens in new window