Iowans who are preparing to file their 2016 taxes are being encouraged to consider making a donation to the state’s Wildlife Diversity program.

Stephanie Shepherd is a wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “This is the program that is responsible for all those wildlife species that you can’t hunt, fish, or trap, so 1,000-plus species at least,” Shepherd says.

The Fish and Wildlife fund was instrumental in reestablishing the peregrine falcon population in Iowa and it’s now being tapped to spur the growth of the monarch butterfly. Iowans can donate through a checkoff on the 1040 tax form. The so-called Chickadee Checkoff was created by state lawmakers in 1981 and Shepherd says donations have dropped off from many years ago.

“There was probably $200,000 to $220,000 donated each year. This past year was about $132,000,” Shepherd says. Last year, roughly 7,500 out of 1.6 million Iowa taxpayers made donations. Shepherd notes the checkoff is one of the last items on the 1040 tax form – at line 57.

“So, it’s easily missed or skipped over and if you don’t already know about it and aren’t looking for it, it’s easily missed,” Shepherd says. “Also, if you’re working with a tax preparer, a lot of times they’re trying to maximize your time and get you out of there. So, sometimes they will forget to ask about it. If you’re working with a tax preparer, just know you should make a point that you’d like to make a donation.”

The donation amount to the Fish and Wildlife fund has stayed roughly the same since 2010, according to Shepherd.