The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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


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

Defenders of Wildlife is the premier U.S.-based national conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of imperiled species and their habitats in North America.

(202) 682-9400