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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2010
1:42 PM

CONTACT: Defenders of Wildlife and EarthEcho International

Mia DeMezza, EarthEcho International, (202) 349-9828 Jim Curland, Defenders of Wildlife, (831) 726-9010 Brian Bovard, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0284

California Sea Otter Fund’s Survival in Jeopardy

Dour economy dents contributions to sea otters in 2009; fund is off to a slow start this year

MONTEREY BAY, Calif. - February 24 - California taxpayers have coughed up a lot of clams for their struggling sea otters over the past four years. Still, the California Sea Otter Fund, a tax check-off program, narrowly missed raising enough money to make the tax form this year.

But the California Tax Franchise Board has granted the Sea Otter Fund and Californians another chance, giving the fund one more year to prove its popularity.

The verdict is out on whether cash-strapped Californians will be able to hit this year's target of $258,563, an increase of $17,500 over last year's earnings.

Despite the odds, conservationists remain hopeful.

"Last year, our sea otter population faced its first decline in the 3-year average in over a decade. This fund is too important to sea otter conservation to let go. Even the donation of a single dollar will help give these magnificent animals the shot at life they deserve," said Jim Curland, Defenders of Wildlife's sea otter expert. "Past contributions show that Californians love their sea otters. We hope they can really rally together this year."

"The California sea otter is an iconic creature," said Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the legendary sea explorer Jacques Cousteau and the CEO and President of EarthEcho International. "By checking the sea otter donation box, California taxpayers will help ensure that these loveable creatures are given the chance they deserve to come back from the brink and thrive for generations to come."

Cousteau has been dedicated to raising awareness of sea otters since the inception of the tax fund, lending his voice to a radio public service announcement campaign. EarthEcho International aims to empower youth to take action to restore and preserve our planet.

The Sea Otter Fund has supported the projects aimed at bolstering sea otter populations that otherwise would have been left without funding. Half the money raised by the fund goes to the California Coastal Conservancy for research and programs related to improving sea otter habitat, including efforts to reduce sea otter deaths. The remaining half goes to the California Department of Fish and Game for increased investigation, prevention and enforcement actions.

Learn more about what Defenders is doing to to help sea otters at www.saveseaotters.org.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

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