A simple choice at tax time can warm spirit and help wildlife

Need something to lift the spirits in the midst of this winter’s recurring cold and snow? Looking for a way to make a big difference with a small investment? 

Filing state income taxes might not be the first thing that comes to mind as an antidote for the winter blahs, unless one realizes that it offers the chance to help more than 800 species of nongame wildlife, some of them threatened or endangered. Line 21 of the Minnesota income tax form – marked by a loon — provides individuals with an opportunity to invest in the future of nongame wildlife.

When taxpayers designate an amount they would like to donate to the Nongame Wildlife Program, their tax-deductible donations are matched one-to-one by state conservation license plate funds. The Nongame Wildlife Program receives no money from the state’s general fund for its efforts to support a wide range of animals that aren’t hunted — from eagles and loons to turtles and butterflies. It receives no funding from hunting and fishing license fees, lottery proceeds or sales taxes. It relies almost entirely on voluntary donations to support its work.

That work includes research to understand how creatures fit within functioning ecosystems, managing habitat, and assisting with recovery efforts for rare species. Over the program’s 41-year history, it has played an important role in the recovery of bald eagles, trumpeter swans, eastern bluebirds, peregrine falcons, and many more species. It also provides nature education, including such highly popular features as the DNR EagleCam now in its sixth year of streaming live video from a Twin Cities bald eagle nest.

“The Nongame Wildlife checkoff is a great way to warm one’s spirit on a cold, winter day by helping fund something we all care about,” said DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor Carrol Henderson. “We all want a future where our kids and grandkids will still be able to chase butterflies, listen to frogs and loons on summer nights, watch falcons and eagles — in person or on a webcam. That’s what the Nongame Wildlife Program is all about.”

For more information on the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, its success stories and ways to volunteer and donate, visit the nongame wildlife page.