Locals can support wildlife at tax time | SierraSun.com

Locals can support wildlife at tax time

The California Department of Fish and Game is urging Tahoe-Truckee taxpayers to support the region’s rare and endangered species by donating a few dollars on their state tax forms.

Contributions can support endangered or threatened species in the Tahoe Basin including the Sierra Nevada red fox, spotted owl, great gray owl, Sierra willow flycatcher, mountain yellow-legged frog and wolverine, said Lorna Bernard, the Fish and Game’s marketing specialist.

Over 300 species of California wildlife are currently listed as endangered or threatened with hundreds more at risk, and California is one of 41 states that allow taxpayers to make a voluntary tax-deductible contribution to the agency’s Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program, Bernard said.

“Our ability to conduct research and monitoring is literally dependent on the generosity of California taxpayers,” Bernard said.

Contributions have allowed the department to conduct population surveys to find out how many endangered or threatened species exist in the Tahoe area and in what densities, Bernard said.

“Before we can initiate a recovery program for a species, we need to know how many there are, whether the populations are increasing or decreasing, and what threats they face,” she said.

With the recent discovery of a wolverine in the Truckee area, Bernard said the department has discussed earmarking some tax funds to conduct a population survey of the animals.

Last year, a similar check-off fund was created to benefit the sea otter and donations helped boost research efforts to preserve the threatened species, said Dave Jessup, the Fish and Game’s senior wildlife veterinarian.

The average contribution amount is $14, and can be made using line 53 of the state tax form. Since 1983, the tax check-off fund has raised more than $17 million to support numerous projects statewide, Bernard said.

“Tahoe people seem to really care about their wildlife,” Bernard said. “If every Tahoe-Truckee resident donated just $1, that could really go a long way.”

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