I received a news release this week from Stephanie Shepherd, IDNR Wildlife Diversity Technician, concerning the Fish and Wildlife Fund tax check-off. Many of you might recognize it by the old name - Chickadee Check-off when it was initiated years ago. I thought that it would be appropriate to include the info here.
What do peregrine falcons, regal fritillary butterflies, spadefoot toads and badgers have in common? They are all wildlife species that benefit from contributions to the Fish and Wildlife Fund tax check-off (aka Chickadee Check-off) on line 58 of Iowa state tax form 1040. Research and habitat management for game species such as deer, turkeys, waterfowl and pheasants are funded through license fees, and habitat stamps. Iowa's non-game wildlife relies mainly on the generosity of Iowa's citizens through the check-off.
The Chickadee Check-off has a relatively long history. Being introduced by the Iowa legislature in 1981, it was the first and only check-off until 2001. At its high point, over 16,000 people donated each year raising approximately $200,000. The fund has fallen 26% in the last six years, with less than 10,000 people donating approximately $108,000 in 2006. This is despite the fact that a recent survey indicated that 45% of Iowa's population over age 16 engage in wildlife watching activities. Iowa's many non-game species are benefiting from the generous contributions of a few.
What exactly do the check-off donations fund? Funds go directly to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Diversity Program which is in charge of the 80% of Iowa's wildlife that is not hunted, fished or trapped that's 1,000+ species! The contributions are also used to develop and distribute several educational publications on Iowa's diverse wildlife and to guide the management of public and private lands for the benefit of both people and wildlife. restore wildlife species to Iowa such as peregrine falcons, prairie chickens, osprey and trumpeter swans; focus on researching birds, butterflies, fish, bobcats, amphibians, and reptiles; conduct educational events such as the Bald Eagle Days, Pelican Fest and Prairie Chicken Day; and acquiring new land to make available to the public for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking. So when the next tax season rolls around, don't forget to check it and protect it!
Every cent of each donation is put to work for Iowa's non-game wildlife and the contribution is tax-deductible.
I would encourage Iowans to consider the Fish and Wildlife Fund check-off this year. Locally we have benefited from the program in more than a couple of ways. Over the years, a wealth of information has been provided by the Wildlife Diversity staff whenever I needed the most up to date data for a public program. Their early efforts in otter reintroduction eventually led to Grundy County receiving a stocking on the Black Hawk Creek. When we received a report of a possible blue-spotted salamander sighting at Holland Marsh, the Wildlife Diversity program assisted with a survey effort to try and verify that the state endangered species might indeed exist there. Although none of this species was discovered, their department was ready on the spot to survey.
Please consider contributing to the Fish/Wildlife Fund it is one of most hassle-free ways to make a difference for wildlife. For more information please contact the Wildlife Diversity Program by calling 515-432-2823.