Help Utah wildlife through tax checkoff
A good feeling during income tax season this spring might be close as line 27c of the 2002 Utah State Income Tax form. Utahn's who write in a dollar amount on this line and give a few dollars to Utah's Nongame Tax Checkoff will be doing much to help animals, birds and fish that people don't hunt or fish for. They'll also be providing themselves more opportunities to view wildlife in the state.
Of the $45,900 given in 2001, $3,670 was used in the Division of Wildlife Resources' Watchable Wildlife program. The program hosts yearly wildlife viewing events and festivals, such as bald eagle day, and provides other opportunities to view wildlife in Utah, including field trips to see burrowing owls and other wildlife. It also raises awareness of nongame issues and the future needs of nongame wildlife.
The remaining $42,230 was used to help wildlife that need some extra help. For example, $5,000, which was then matched by $15,000 federal dollars, was used to help endangered black-footed ferrets in northeastern Utah. "The ferret population there is doing great since being reintroduced in 1999," says Alan Clark, wildlife section chief for DWR. "We found, for the first time this year, ferrets born in the wild to mothers who were also born in the wild. That's a sign the population is healthy and growing."
Nongame tax checkoff money was used by biologists to help fund the surveys that documented this success. Tax checkoff money was also used to reintroduce 63 more ferrets to the area in 2001, and to conduct habitat assessments important to the continued success of the population.
Yellow-billed cuckoos, Southwestern willow flycatchers, grasshoppper sparrows and black swifts; four birds in need of special attention in Utah, also benefitted from the nongame tax checkoff donations given last year."All of these birds are on our state sensitive species list," Clark explains.
"The Southwestern willow flycatcher is also on the federal endangered species list and the yellow-billed cuckoo's status is undergoing federal review. It's important that we do all we can to keep these birds off the federal list, and the money given by nongame tax contributors is helping us do that," continued Clark.
Nongame tax checkoff money given last year has been used to conduct surveys to learn where these birds are in the state, and how big their populations are.
A study of the spotted frog, another Utah species that has been petitioned for federal listing, has also continued with the help of nongame tax checkoff money. Being conducted in the Heber Valley, the study is aimed at learning more about spotted frogs and the type of habitat they need to survive the winter.
"It's really encouraging to know that there are people out there who care enough about Utah's wildlife to provide funding for this type of work," commented Matthew Andersen, native aquatic species coordinator for DWR. "The work we're doing with these species is very important and the funds given by Utah's nongame tax checkoff contributors are helping us accomplish it."