Sea Otters Depend on CA Taxpayers
Californians are being asked to remember the sea otter when they fill out their income tax forms.
The California Sea Otter Fund is one of the groups to which taxpayers can donate an amount of their choice through a tax-form checkoff. Jim Curland, advocacy program director for Friends of the Sea Otter, said this fund is the major source of funding for sea otter research and conservation efforts in California.
Curland said the fund remains at risk of being dropped from the tax forms if donations fail to reach a certain amount.
"In a few of the six years the fund has been on state income tax forms," he said, "it's been pretty close in meeting the minimum threshold amount set by the California Franchise Tax Board."
Donations must exceed a little more than $273,000. If every taxpayer would donate on his or her state tax form, Curland said, the troubled sea otter population may have a chance to bounce back.
In the past, some of the money collected has funded a comparison study of sea otters off the rural Big Sur coast versus those in more populated areas. The goal was to determine if sea otters are suffering from more land-sea connection 0types of influences. Curland said much more can be studied.
"Things like analyzing more of why sea otters are dying; how they use certain habitats and prey; informing the public on what we can do in our everyday lives to reduce impacts on the marine environment," he said.
Californians can donate by checking off Line 410 on their tax forms. The Sea Otter Fund is a collective campaign that includes Friends of the Sea Otter, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and others.
More information is online at seaotters.org.