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Check the Tax Checkoff for Wildlife

Anyone working on this year's tax forms might consider checking the box to donate to Idaho's wildlife.

Taxpayers may check the square on their Idaho tax forms to donate any amount of their refund to the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund administered by Idaho Fish and Game. Other Fish and Game programs aimed at game animals and fish are funded through the sale of licenses and tags to hunters and anglers.

No general tax revenues go to either game or nongame programs.

Two ways to support animals that are not hunted, fished or trapped is by donating on your Idaho income tax form or buying an Idaho wildlife license plate.

Nongame programs include education, conservation and recreation. Examples of nongame wildlife projects include producing popular educational publications and research on nongame wildlife species. Better information about those species aids wildlife management efforts and could help keep some from becoming rare or endangered.

The number of Idaho residents participating in wildlife related activities, such as bird and wildlife watching, wildlife photography, bird feeding and conservation education, continues to rise. While this constituency continues to grow, the problem of how to fund the nongame program and meet ever-increasing demands continues.

About 98 percent of Idaho's wild creatures - 523 species including songbirds, water birds, raptors, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and threatened and endangered wildlife - are classified as "nongame wildlife."

Nongame wildlife is not normally hunted, fished or trapped, but is found in every corner of Idaho.

Besides the checkoff, the major source of funding for nongame programs is through the sale of the distinctive bluebird, cutthroat trout and elk license plates.

Legislation established the state's first income tax check-off on the 1981 income tax form, which still continues as an important source of program income today. In 1992, the Idaho Legislature passed the wildlife license plate bill that allowed a portion of the wildlife license plate proceeds to benefit the nongame wildlife program. The bluebird plate became available in 1993. The elk plate was added in 1998 and the cutthroat trout plate in 2003.

Wildlife plates are available at the vehicle licensing offices of every county assessor. For information, or to buy a wildlife plate contact the local county assessor: http://itd.idaho.gov/dmv/vehicleservices/assessor.htm; or the Department of Transportation Special Plates-Registration Services Section on the Internet at http://www.itd.idaho.gov/dmv/Vehicleservices/registr.htm; or by phone at 208-334-8649.