on Feb 21, 2014 03:14 PM • Views 3828

Help the Wildlife Commission conserve nongame wildlife, such as bog turtles, by donating a portion of your state income tax refund to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. (photo by Jeff Hall)

Media Contact: Jodie B. Owen

RALEIGH, N.C. (Feb. 21, 2014) — With the click of a mouse or the stroke of a pen, people can help keep North Carolina wild by donating on line 31 on their N.C. State Income tax form.

Donations support the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, which helps the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission conduct research, conservation and monitoring work that benefits animals not hunted or fished — animals such as songbirds, sea turtles, eagles, salamanders, frogs, turtles and bats.

“Any amount helps. Whether it’s $1or $100, the Wildlife Commission can use your donation to match federal ando ther grants, or to pay for educational activities and wildlife-watching projects like the N.C. Birding Trail and research that could prevent species from becoming endangered,” said Perry Sumner, program manager for the Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Program. “We can double donated dollars with these matching grants. So, for instance, if you make a $50 donation to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, we will get $100 to help protect these animals.”

Donations made to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund make up the largest and most significant source of non-federal funding to help these animals, so donations are critical to the continuation of many projects.

Current work includes surveys to determine the abundance and distribution of many species, such as bog turtles in western North Carolina, red-cockaded woodpeckers in the Coastal Plain and Carolina gopher frogs in the Piedmont. Through surveys, biologists collect data that help them determine the most effective ways to manage wildlife and their habitats, ensuring that species not only survive, but thrive, in a state where habitat continues to disappear at an alarming rate.

Green Growth Toolbox and other technical guidance programs also are funded through Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund donations. These programs are targeted to local government officials and the general public to help them design communities, homes, workplaces and backyards that benefit their own needs as well as the needs of wildlife.

The Tar Heel state is home to more than 1,000 nongame species. Many of them, such as box turtles, gray treefrogs wrens and chickadees, are common and can be found in many backyards, fields and woods. Others, such as sea turtles, Carolina northern flying squirrels and several bat species, are endangered and need conservation to prevent them from disappearing entirely from our state’s landscape.

Over the years, projects conducted by wildlife diversity biologists have led to restoration of animals that were once considered critically endangered, such as the bald eagle and peregrine falcon. Conversely, biologists have worked with animals that aren’t yet endangered, such as the box turtle, freshwater mussels and many species of songbirds, to ensure that their populations remain viable and sustainable.

“Much of the work that our biologists do today helps maintain viable, self-sustaining populations of all native wildlife,” Sumner said. “We emphasize priority species and habitats identified in North Carolina’s Wildlife Action Plan.”

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 quarterly reports, is available on the Commission’s website.

Download a high-resolution version of the box turtle above. Please credit Jeff Hall.