More in Sports
Lynx, turtles and birds, oh my!
REGION -- The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has the responsibility of conserving all of Maine’s wildlife for current and future generations.
Funding for the management of game species such as deer, turkey, bear, and ducks has come from hunting revenues since the 1930s. Funding for lesser known nongame species (animals that are not hunted or trapped) has been difficult to find, even though these species comprise the vast majority of Maine’s diverse wildlife heritage.
These species are a large part of Maine’s unique experience of diverse sights and sounds, and help to make our state the special place that is Maine. Some that you may not even think of fill valuable roles by contributing to things such as nutrient cycling, water purification, pollination, and prey for larger species. Consider, for example, that a good brook trout stream is first and foremost habitat for mayflies, stoneflies, and other aquatic invertebrates.
Many endangered and nongame wildlife species face declines in their populations due to habitat loss, pollution, roadkill, and other factors. Keeping these valuable species as abundant and functional members of Maine’s diverse habitats requires carefully planned research and recovery efforts tailored to each species. Recovery of the bald eagle in 2009 from both the federal and state endangered species lists provides a great example of how dedicated wildlife conservation funding resulted in successful recovery of a public wildlife resource.
Most of the funding for the management of endangered and nongame species comes from programs such as the federal State Wildlife Grant program. This federal grant is only accessible to Maine if the state matches the federal money with a specified amount of state money. Most of these state matching dollars come from sales of the Loon conservation license plate and volunteer contributions on the income-tax form via the Chickadee Check-off. In the mid-1990s, both of these programs flourished and provided a means for everybody and anybody to financially support the wildlife they enjoy.
However, revenues from both the Loon Plate and the Chickadee Check-off have been declining steadily. Income tax check-offs that raise less than $25,000 annually will become ‘unviable’, and will no longer be listed on tax forms. Unfortunately, if the Chickadee
Check-off continues its downward trend, it could be eliminated in the near future. Funds from the Chickadee Check-off and Loon
Plates are deposited directly into Maine’s dedicated Endangered and Nongame Wildlife Fund and, by law, can only be used for conservation efforts for such species. When used as match for a federal grant, this dedicated fund is essentially doubled or tripled.
Losing these sources of funding would be disastrous to many nongame species, including some that are state-listed as endangered or threatened, such as the piping plover and the Canada lynx.
To put into perspective how far a relatively small amount of money from the Chickadee Check-off can go, consider that just within the last year, monies from the State Wildlife Grant matched with funds from the Check-Off have funded projects directed at conserving a plethora of species including, but not limited to, bald eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, piping plovers, great blue herons, purple sandpipers, Canada lynx, threatened bats, New England cottontail, Blanding’s turtles, spotted turtles, Roaring Brook mayflies,
Clayton’s copper butterflies, and several rare freshwater mussels. Funds from the Check-Off have also gone to citizen science projects like the Maine Butterfly Survey and the Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlasing Project.
These species and many more depend on you. Please think of them when you file your taxes for 2012 by considering a contribution to the Chickadee Check-off on form Schedule CP.
To view an annual Research & Management Report compiled and published by MDIF&W to, in part, document how nongame conservation funding gets generated and used, visit: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/surveys_reports/research_management/in.... Thank you for helping us to conserve wildlife for all uses and experiences.