More than 900 species of wildlife in Alabama are classified as “nongame.” If you enjoy watching these wild birds and animals, here’s your chance to help them. When you Checkoff for Wildlife on the Alabama state income tax return, did you know that your donation of $1 turns into $4 for wildlife with matching federal funds?
The Nongame Wildlife Program, administered by the Department of Conservation’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, is responsible for monitoring Alabama’s nongame. These are species like bluebirds, woodpeckers and robins that you see every day in your back yard. Some nongame species that were threatened or endangered due to loss of habitat and low populations have made fantastic recoveries, such as bald eagles and ospreys.
Many are surprised to learn that the Nongame Wildlife Program does not receive state tax dollars. It is partially funded by the citizens of Alabama through tax-deductible donations. In addition to donations, federal funds such as the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (P-R Act) are also used. The P-R Act is an excise tax on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery and other outdoor equipment that is earmarked for wildlife restoration and management. Therefore, the hunters of this state provide the primary source of funding for Alabama’s Nongame Wildlife Program.
In 1982, the Alabama Legislature enacted a law providing for the Alabama Nongame Wildlife Fund checkoff box on the state income tax form. This provides concerned citizens a way to donate all or a portion of their state tax refunds for the benefit of nongame wildlife. These donations are matched on a three-to-one federal cost share. This means that for every $1 you donate, the state receives $3 in federal matching funds. Your $5 donation means $20 for nongame wildlife conservation. Your $100 donation means $400.
More than 1 million Alabamians receive a state tax refund each year; if only one out of four people donate just $4, it would mean over $1 million dollars for nongame wildlife conservation in Alabama.
Donations and money from the checkoff system, along with P-R money, helped fund the successful Bald Eagle Restoration Project and the Bluebird Restoration Project in the early days of the Nongame Wildlife Program. Today, the bald eagle and bluebird populations have increased to substantial numbers and sightings of these once rare birds are now common in many parts of the state.
If you use a tax accountant or preparer, ask them to check the box for the Alabama Nongame Wildlife Fund. If you do not receive a state income tax refund, consider making a direct donation. Send your check to the Nongame Wildlife Program, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, 64 North Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36130. Remember, your tax-deductible donation will be tripled through available federal funds.
Recent annual donations have been low, averaging less than $20,000 per year.
This year, give something back to wildlife for all the enjoyment it has given you. It is our responsibility to help preserve this treasured resource for future generations. For more information contact the Nongame Wildlife Program, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, 64 North Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36130; 334-242-3469; or visit www.outdooralabama.com.