CARMEL (AP) — A central coast legislator is introducing a bill that would help protect threatened sea otters by keeping a voluntary contribution check box on state income tax forms.

Legislation by Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would extend a deadline from 2012 to 2016 for the optional contributions on the 540 state income tax form.

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Conservation group Defenders of Wildlife says about 3,000 otters face threats from toxic substances in the water, fishing nets and damage to their habitat by manmade development.

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The group says the tax form contributions raised $263,543 for sea otter protQections in 2010.

Monning says his bill is important for the otter’s survival, and the optional contribution helps the state fund future protections.

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