Donations to a wildlife diversity fund in Iowa have dropped to their lowest level in the nearly 30 year history of the program. Iowans can donate to the Fish and Wildlife Fund when they file their taxes.
Stephanie Shepherd, with the Department of Natural Resources, says donations have dropped 20% over the past six years. “We’re not entirely sure why folks are slowing down in their rate of giving,” Shepherd said. “It may just be a matter of them not knowing about the checkoff on the tax form.”
The Fish and Wildlife Fund and other checkoffs are located on line 58 of the state tax form. Shepherd says the most raised in a single year from the Fish and Wildlife Checkoff was around $250,000. “In recent years, we’ve been bringing in $109,000 – which is what was raised in the 2009 tax year – to around $120,000,” Shepherd said.
The fund, commonly referred to as the “Chickadee Checkoff,” helps the DNR protect more than 800 non-sport or game species such as bald eagles, trumpeter swans, frogs and butteries.
A portion of the money raised from the sales of DNR specialty license plates is also directed at the Fish and Wildlife Diversity program. “So, there are two different ways to give, but the tax checkoff is really a very important source of our funding and helps particularly with our operations in the Wildlife Diversity program,” Shepherd said. “Without that money, we’d really be hurting.”
The tax checkoff funds are also used by the DNR to host public events such as Bald Eagle Appreciation Days, Pelican Fest and Hawk Watch.