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Using Tax Time to Help Minnesota Wildlife

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Taxpayers can help protect non-game species, including Minnesota's state bird, the common loon, by making a donation on their state income-tax forms. (iStockphoto)
Taxpayers can help protect non-game species, including Minnesota's state bird, the common loon, by making a donation on their state income-tax forms. (iStockphoto)
February 9, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - As many of us are preparing our income taxes, one state agency is reminding Minnesotans there's an easy way to help protect wildlife at tax time.

All it takes is checking the box on the state tax form to donate to the Nongame Wildlife Program, part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Spokesperson for the program Lori Naumann says its work helps protect more than 800 species, including some that are endangered or threatened. But Naumann says since 2008 and the recession, donations have dropped off.

"We are sort of a nonprofit," says Naumann. "Because we rely on those donations and if we didn't have them, we wouldn't exist and there wouldn't be a lot of the protections that are there for those non-game species."

She says by checking off any amount on Line 21 of the Minnesota state income tax form, the tax-deductible donation is also matched dollar-for-dollar by the state's conservation license-plate fund. In 2013, donations totaled just over $1 million.

The nongame program protects animal species that are not allowed to be hunted. In the past, the group also has helped reintroduce several fragile populations back to Minnesota, including bald eagles and trumpeter swans. Naumann says they're working to keep the state's biodiversity intact because it's all connected.

"If there are contaminants in the water and then, the fish get contaminated and the bald eagle can also grab a fish and take that to the nest and feed it to their chicks and then, the chicks might die," she says. "It's important to have someone as sort of a watchdog, someone who watches out for these species."

More information about the program is on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' website.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN