Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2070 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
The Nongame Conservation Section receives no state appropriations, depending instead on grants, fundraising and donations to conserve Georgia’s nongame wildlife, rare native plants and natural habitats. With fundraising a necessity, the section has three primary avenues: Weekend for Wildlife, the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff and the nongame wildlife license plates. All contributions go into the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Nongame’s friends group, The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, also provides significant support.
Weekend for Wildlife  is one of the country’s most successful fundraisers for conservation, grossing more than $7 million since its start in 1989. The annual event draws 300-400 guests to the prestigious Cloister at Sea Island for a weekend of outdoor trips, auctions and dining. The 2010 celebration grossed slightly more than $608,000.
The state income tax checkoff offers Georgians a convenient way to contribute to the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund. Since the checkoff’s creation in 1989, net contributions have averaged more than $300,000, with a high of $510,910 collected in 1991 and a low of $184,065 in 1994. The revenue for 2010 reached $205,339. Contributions have declined annually since fiscal year 2005.
The Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff is line 26 on the long state income tax form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short form (Form 500-EZ).
The bald eagle and ruby-throated hummingbird automobile tags remain the Nongame Conservation Section’s largest funding source, raising $885,236 in fiscal year 2010. That total marked an upturn from the previous fiscal year, but it also was only the second year since fiscal 2004 for total sales of less than $1 million. The eagle plate continues to outsell the hummingbird plate.
State lawmakers changed the fee and revenue-sharing structure for Georgia specialty plates in 2010, reducing the share of the purchase that goes to sponsor groups and adding an annual renewal fee. These changes were not fully implemented until the start of fiscal year 2011. Early indications pointed to a decline in renewal rates and sales, but an increase in revenue because of the new renewal fee.
The Environmental Resources Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, funded nearly $66,000 in nongame projects in 2010. The work varied from developing a web-based guide to Georgia’s crayfishes to providing transponder tags to help mark bog turtles, sponsoring an outstanding teacher award, and funding equipment for rare plant data collection and species identification. TERN, online at http://tern.homestead.com  and on Facebook , raises money through membership fees, donations, and the sale of raffle tickets, gifts and silent and verbal auctions at Weekend for Wildlife.
The Nongame Conservation Section received $6.24 million in federal and other grants during fiscal 2010. Georgia is sharing $1 million from the State Wildlife Grants Competitive Program with Alabama, Florida and South Carolina for a multi-year project to increase the quality, quantity and connectivity of prime sandhill habitat.