on Apr 05, 2012 09:58 AM • Views 4294

Wildlife Commission biologists capture, measure, mark and release Carolina northern flying squirrels as part of one of the agency’s Wildlife Diversity Program projects to help conserve endangered species.

Media Contact: Jodie B. Owen

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 5, 2011) — With Tax Day approaching on April 17, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding taxpayers to help keep North Carolina wild when completing a N.C. State Income tax form this year.

Whether you love to hunt, fish, photograph wildlife, or watch birds in your own backyard, you can help conserve the state’s wildlife and their habitats by making a donation on line 28 of the state tax form.

“When you make a donation to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund through line 28 on the tax form, we call it a ‘tax check-off donation,’” said Chris McGrath, the Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Program coordinator. “That’s because the old tax form literally used to have a box that you would check to help us conserve wildlife. The check box is gone, but the need is greater than ever.”

Songbirds, fish, bats, salamanders, frogs and turtles all benefit from tax check-off donations made to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, according to McGrath.

“In fact, more than 1,000 nongame species call the Tarheel state home,” he said. “Many species, such as box turtles, gray treefrogs and eastern towhees, are common and can be found in your backyard. Others, such as sea turtles, Carolina northern flying squirrels and red-cockaded woodpeckers, are endangered and need conservation to prevent them from disappearing entirely from our state’s landscape. Once-endangered species, like peregrine falcons and bald eagles, now soar high in our Carolina blue skies, thanks in part to donations made to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund.”

The Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund’s tax check-off donations provide the largest and most significant source of non-federal funding for these projects. Every dollar of tax check-off donations that the Commission receives goes to the Fund, where it matches federal and other grants, or is used to fund educational activities and wildlife-watching projects like the North Carolina Birding Trail. Because your donations can be matched with federal and other grants, the Wildlife Commission can more than double your donated dollars. For example, if you make a $50 donation, nongame and endangered wildlife in North Carolina benefit from at least $100 of support.

Projects supported by tax check-off donations include: 

- Monitoring populations of  the broadtail madtom, a tiny gray catfish found only in a handful of locations in the Coastal Plain of North and South Carolina, by placing experimental reefs, or madtom hotels, in Lake Waccamaw;

- Restoring fish and mussel populations in the Cheoah and Pigeon rivers using animals taken from other rivers as well as those propagated at the Commission’s Marion State Fish Hatchery;

- Monitoring colonial waterbird populations, like terns and black skimmers, on state-owned islands;

- Working with partners to maintain and enhance colonial waterbird breeding habitat; and,

- Partnering with the N.C. Aquarium to enhance wetlands in long-leaf pine forests on the coast and in the Sandhills that provide critical wintering habitat for the gopher frog, a secretive frog whose populations have suffered tremendously from habitat loss and degradation.

“The generosity of North Carolinians through their donations to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund is critical to the important conservation work that the Wildlife Resources Commission is doing to manage and conserve nongame wildlife,” McGrath said. “Populations of an incredible variety of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, mollusks and amphibians directly benefit from those donations, and we work diligently to ensure their sustainability for our fellow North Carolinians.”

Online tax preparation software, such as TurboTax, does not have numbered lines, so e-filers will be asked if they would like to make a donation to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. Other tax filers can also tell their tax preparer they would like to donate.

Tax season isn’t the only time or way to contribute to wildlife conservation. Other ways to help North Carolina’s wildlife and their habitats year-round are: 

More information about the Wildlife Diversity Program, including projects and annual reports, is available on the Commission’s website.