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CA Taxpayers are Asked to “Donate a Dollar to Save an Otter”

April 13, 2011

A fund that protects California's sea otters is about to expire unless taxpayers donate enough on their state tax forms and lawmakers reauthorize the fund.

Californians are being urged to "donate a dollar for an otter" as Monday's income-tax filing deadline nears. Supporters of the California Sea Otter Fund say that if every taxpayer would donate on his or her tax form, the troubled sea otter population may have a chance to bounce back.

Jim Curland, Defenders of Wildlife marine program associate, says thousands of dollars have been donated since the fund was established in 2007, but if donations fall short of this year's target amount, the Franchise Tax Board will let the fund expire.

"Millions of people in California, and if each person gave a dollar we'd be doing great. This is the main source of funding for sea otters in California, and we continue to see a struggling population that's shown a second consecutive year of declines."

His group won't know if the target amount was met until Sept. 1, Curland says, but it's encouraged so far by the amount taxpayers donated in the first two months of the year. He says the money will go a long way to protect the sea otters.

"This population is really struggling, and this is a huge key to investigating why they're doing poorly and what we can do to help them."

Reaching the target amount is only half the goal. A bill to reauthorize the California Sea Otter Fund starting in 2012 must also be passed. AB-971 was approved in its first committee hearing this week.

More information is online at defenders.org.

Lori Abbott/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - CA