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Sea Otter Population Declining Again, State Has No Money to Research Why

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Photo by Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Bezaire via Flickr

Photo by Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Bezaire via Flickr
These weasels are so damn cute, but once again their population is dwindling. In the late 19th Century and into the early 20th, the population estimated to be over 100,000 decreased to extreme lows of around 1,000 to 2,000 thanks to the fur trade (in California, the population was specifically around 16,000 which was decimated to around 50). Today they are protected by law and a Monterey Aquarium favorite.

Although a decapitated sea otter was found in Morro Bay last April, at least 50 percent of otter deaths are now disease related.

"Despite the sea otter’s listing on the Endangered Species list, federal funding for sea otter research has always been very limited, and has declined considerably in the last three years," said Dr. Dave Jessup, Wildlife Veterinarian for the California Department
of Fish and Game. "Today there is no funding to enable California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to conduct research as to why sea otters are dying and what can be done about it. Private funding, and research grants have helped, but these sources have also dried up."

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In an e-mail blast, Jessup continues to talk about the threat to Sea Otter funding in California and how people can help.

For the last several years, California tax check-off funds have helped fill this funding gap. The tax check-off is a way that taxpayers can easily donate to a cause of their choice from a list on their tax return. However, the number of taxpayers selecting to contribute to the Sea Otter Fund option in 2009 is lower than it was last year at this time. If the Sea Otter Fund tax check-off fails to bring in $262,000, it will be removed from the California income tax form, wiping out a critical funding source for sea otter research and habitat protection. Taxpayers have already contributed $220,000. We need just $42,000 to ensure this fund survives. We’re close, but still need your help. If you have not yet paid your taxes (or if you have filed for an
extension), please consider checking off the sea otter box. Even those
who have already paid their California income taxes can help by
submitting another tax form, checking the box, and enclosing a check.
This will send a clear message to the Franchise Tax Board that
Californians want to save their sea otters and preserve their tax
check-off options.

For more information on the sea otter tax check-off, visit Thank you for your help on this critical