ID: Tax checkoff supports wildlife

As you sweat your way through this year’s tax forms, it might
lift spirits a little to check the box for donating 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
taxes go to either game or nongame programs.

The only 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 doing 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.

More than 80 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 checkoff 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.

The nongame program gets 71 percent of the money from the sale
of bluebird plates, and 64 percent of the money from elk and trout
plates – 4 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife
disease monitoring and testing programs and 7 percent from
cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access. Because
renewals cost $10 less, revenues are proportionately less.

The wildlife plates provide about 95 percent of state-based
nongame wildlife program funding, which includes annual bald eagle
counts and the Idaho Birding Trail as well as the Project WILD and
Wildlife Express conservation education programs for teachers and
students. The money also provides critical matching dollars for
federal grants and partnerships with federal natural resource
agencies.

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.

 

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