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Want a warm and fuzzy feeling? Donate to nongame wildlife program

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Taxpayers who donate to the Minnesota nongame program on their tax form, may be interested in knowing how their donations help the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) nongame wildlife program.

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Donations contribute to research, surveys and habitat improvement for Minnesota's nongame wildlife. Some examples:

--Ospreys now have active nests in 30 Minnesota counties.

--There are more loons nesting in Minnesota than in any other continental state.

--Minnesota is second only to Alaska in the number of resident bald eagles.

--At least 52 pairs of peregrine falcons nest in Minnesota; the first pair began nesting in the state in 1987.

--Trumpeter swans, missing from state at the turn of the century, now number more than 5,000.

--Minnesota has one of the most successful bluebird recovery projects in the nation.

The nongame wildlife program is primarily funded by donations made on the "loon line" of the Minnesota income tax and the state property tax forms. Donations fund 80 percent of the program. Funding does not come from state taxes or license fees, though they are matched one-to-one from the critical habitat license plate fund so donors are essentially doubling their donations.

Donations range in size, but typically average $15 to $20, said Christine Herwig, DNR Northwest Region nongame specialist.

"Every little bit helps, and it's tax deductible," Herwig said. "Donations are primarily used for species of greatest conservation need."

When the checkoff was first instituted in 1980, there were 138,609 individual donations. In 2011, the number of individuals donating dropped to 53,821. Donations have increased steadily each year, from a low the first year of $3.34 to the 2011 high of $17.03, but the total dollar amount has fallen in two of the past three years. For the 2011 tax year, donations amounted to $1.06 million.

For more information, contact Christine Herwig, 218-308-2641, or christine.herwig@state.mn.us.

For detailed information on Minnesota nongame wildlife program conservation projects, go to www.mndnr.gov/nongame.

To donate online to the nongame wildlife fund, www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/checkoff.html.

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