RALEIGH, N.C. (Jan. 26, 2012) — Helping conserve North Carolina’s nongame and endangered wildlife species is as simple as checking a box.
By checking line 28 on your North Carolina State Income tax form this year, you can help the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission fund research, conservation and monitoring projects that benefit animals not hunted or fished.
Every dollar of your tax check-off donation goes to the Commission’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, where it matches federal and other grants, or is used to fund educational activities and watchable-wildlife projects like the North Carolina Birding Trail.
Tax check-off donations are particularly important because they provide the largest and most significant source of state funding for nongame projects, said Chris McGrath, the Wildlife Diversity Program coordinator in the agency’s Wildlife Management Division.
“Every dollar we receive in donations — whether it’s through the state income tax check-off, license plate registration or other means — is absolutely critical in helping us continue our work,” McGrath said. “In addition to matching other grants for nongame wildlife research, monitoring or habitat management, these funds are the only source available to produce informational materials, conduct events that connect the public to wildlife, or support wildlife-viewing opportunities and partnerships.”
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.
In fact, much of the work biologists do today helps maintain viable, self-sustaining populations of all native wildlife, with an emphasis on priority species and habitats identified in North Carolina’s Wildlife Action Plan. They have conducted numerous surveys to determine the abundance and distribution of many species across the state — from Carolina northern flying squirrels that glide through the high-elevation forests of western North Carolina to robust redhorse, a fish that swims only in the Pee Dee River basin to colonial waterbirds that nest and raise their young on beaches and dredge islands along the coast.
Through their surveying and monitoring efforts, 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 pristine habitat continues to disappear at an alarming rate.
Other projects funded through tax check-off dollars, such as the Green Growth Toolbox, have made habitat more suitable for wildlife. Through the Green Growth Toolbox, wildlife diversity biologists last year provided technical guidance to more than 160 local government officials, instructing them on ways to design communities and maintain high-quality wildlife habitat while building new homes, workplaces and shopping centers.
“Wildlife conservation is about ensuring that we have clean water and wild places to enjoy in our great state,” McGrath said. “It’s also about making sure that our children’s children can hunt, fish, bird watch, photograph or enjoy the bountiful wildlife that our parents did.
“Checking line 28 on your state tax income form and making a contribution to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund allow the Wildlife Diversity Program staff to continue this important work.”
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:
Find out more information about the Wildlife Diversity Program, including projects and annual reports.
Click here for a high resolution version of the image above. Credit N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Jodie B. Owen