Did you know that contributing as little as $2 on your state income tax return can help Georgia’s rare animals and plants?
Conservation of nongame wildlife in this state – from loggerhead sea turtles to golden-winged warblers – as well as native plants and natural habitats is supported largely by the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund. In turn, that fund depends on public contributions.
One main source of contributions is the Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff, also called the Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff.
Until last year, giving through the checkoff had declined sharply since 2005. Even with the uptick in 2011, contributions still ranked second-least in more than a decade.
But, if more Georgians gave as little as $2 each, the impact on wildlife could be significant.
The checkoff and the Wildlife Conservation Fund have been part of Georgia’s wildest success stories, including the rebound of bald eagles and the acquisition of thousands of acres of natural habitat along the Altamaha River. Also, by using the Wildlife Conservation Fund to attract and match grants, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section gains about $1 for every 25 cents spent from the fund.
Nongame Conservation Section Assistant Chief Jon Ambrose said the state income tax checkoff is critical in “providing the match we need to get additional funding from other sources.”
The Nongame Section receives no state appropriations for its mission to conserve nongame wildlife – native animals not legally hunted or fished for – and native plants and habitats.
More than 1,000 Georgia plant and animal species are species of conservation concern. This tax season, and even during these tight times, consider giving 2 wildlife. Fill in $2 or more on line 26 of the state’s long tax form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short form (Form 500EZ). The amount will be deducted from refunds or added to payments.
You can also give if you file electronically or through a tax preparer. Tax preparers are aware of checkoff options but you will need to instruct them to include the contribution, according to Checkoff Georgia, which represents charitable organizations with checkoffs. Download a request letter to provide preparers at www.checkoffgeorgia.com/downloads.html.
Tax forms are available at https://etax.dor.ga.gov. Click www.georgiawildlife.com/TaxCheckoff for details about the Wildlife Conservation Fund checkoff. Discover other ways to support wildlife at www.georgiawildlife.com/Conservation/Support, or by calling (770) 761-3035 in Social Circle or (478) 994-1438 in Forsyth.
Please consult your tax professional about deducting contributions.
Wildlife Checkoff at Work
By the early 1970s, bald eagles were no longer nesting in Georgia. Today, these magnificent raptors are nesting in nearly a third of the state’s counties.
Reasons for the recovery vary from a ban on DDT to protection through the Endangered Species Act. Yet checkoff contributions to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund have played a key role in DNR’s restoration efforts.
Contributions now help support annual surveys of bald eagle nests and work with landowners to protect nest sites. Last year, the DNR Nongame Conservation Section documented 143 occupied nesting territories. That compares to 55 in the year 2000, nine in 1990 and only one in 1980.