Wednesday, 12 June 2024

California Outdoors: Tax-deductible donation options, rockfish, albino rattlesnakes

Sea otters. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Does CDFW offer any tax-deductible donation options that help conserve wildlife?

Q: Does CDFW offer any tax-deductible donation options that help conserve wildlife?

A: Yes, thank you for wanting to help native and endangered plants, animals and fish! California taxpayers have the option to help one or all three of California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) tax check-off funds when filing their state income tax return:

1) The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Voluntary Tax Contribution Program (Line 403 on Tax Form 540) supports conservation actions that help protect hundreds of rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals within our state.

2) The California Sea Otter Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund (Line 410 on Tax Form 540) supports CDFW scientists investigating causes of sea otter mortality and reasons why the species is not thriving in California. A portion of the funding goes to State Coastal Conservancy projects which help protect California’s sea otter population.

3) The Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund (Line 439 on Tax Form 540) helps sick, injured and orphaned wildlife by supporting permitted wildlife rehabilitation facilities through a new CDFW grants program.

Everything you need to know to complete your donation can be found on CDFW’s Voluntary Tax Contribution Funds webpage. We truly appreciate your positive impact on key issues affecting California’s native species!

Rockfish identification

Q: How do I know if I’ve caught a copper, quillback or vermilion rockfish?

A: This is an important question because new regulations to help protect depleted stocks of copper and quillback rockfishes go into effect this year. In addition to the new season and depth regulations, CDFW reminds anglers that there is still a one-fish sub-bag limit for both copper rockfish and quillback rockfish, and a four-fish sub-bag limit for vermilion rockfish.

While it can be challenging to identify rockfish, anglers are responsible for properly identifying the species they catch.

CDFW has developed numerous fish identification resources for anglers including flyers to help distinguish copper, quillback and vermilion rockfishes from similar looking species:

Copper rockfish, canary rockfish and gopher rockfish identification

Quillback rockfish, China rockfish and black-and-yellow rockfish identification

Vermilion rockfish, canary rockfish and yelloweye rockfish identification

The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s RecFIN website has additional fish identification materials. Visit CDFW’s Groundfish webpage for more information including frequently asked questions.

Albino rattlesnakes

Q: I’m an out-of-state licensed reptile breeder and I have a potential customer in California who wants to legally acquire captive bred albino Western Diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox). I read that they might be a restricted species. Would the customer need a permit to purchase the snakes?

A: No, a permit would not be necessary in this case. However, we appreciate you checking because the regulations are complicated. First, Crotalus atrox, while native to California, isn’t a restricted species. Currently, there are no native amphibians or reptiles that are a restricted species per California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, sections 671(c)(3) and 671(c)(7). Note that the term "native" refers to all individuals from species and subspecies indigenous to California regardless of whether they are captive bred or from outside the state per CCR, Title 14, section 1.67.

Second, CCR, Title 14, section 40(a) states that importation of native California amphibians and reptiles is prohibited without permission from CDFW. That permission is afforded through various permits and licenses depending on the purpose of the importation, but the only one that currently applies to the pet trade is a Native Reptile Propagation Permit issued per CCR, Title 14, section 43. That section is limited to the three species of snakes that may be commercially bred: Lichanura orcutti, Lampropeltis californiae, and Pituophis catenifer (subsection 43(c)). Additionally, captively bred albino native reptiles are exempt from the requirement to possess a permit to purchase, breed, and sell (subsection 43(a)(7)), and they can be imported and exported without a permit from CDFW.

Third, note that albinos are defined as individual native reptiles lacking normal body pigment and having red or pink eyes. Therefore, if your albinos do not meet both specifications they would not be exempted from the importation prohibition in CCR, Title 14, section 40(a).

In summary, as long as your albino rattlesnakes meet the physical description in the regulations, they are exempt from the prohibition on importation and the requirement of the recipient to purchase a propagation permit. However, note that some local jurisdictions have ordinances against possession of venomous animals, so the customer should check to see if they live in one of those areas.

Answer provided by CDFW Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator Laura Patterson.

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