Mar 10, 2017
The countdown has begun, for Iowa’s income tax filing deadline. And as about 1.5 million returns are wrapping up, the call goes out, to ‘check the checkoff’.
Iowa’s wildlife diversity is the beneficiary, when you take a moment on line 57A on your 1040 form and check off a few dollars for the Fish & Wildlife Fund. Known as the Chickadee Checkoff since it was first added to the tax forms in 1982, the dollars pledged support all those ‘nongame’ wild species out there; those not directly benefiting from hunting and fishing license sales or excise taxes on equipment purchased for those outdoor recreation pillars. You can have them deducted from your refund, or simply tacked on to what you owe.
Those hunting and fishing derived funds provide research, management, even new habitat purchases, which keep those game fish and wildlife populations relatively healthy and available for everyone to enjoy. There is some impact, for sure, for nongame species; but specific needs go unmet—and as a result—iconic species ranging from the Monarch butterfly, prairie chickens and a thousand others in Iowa face a troubled future.
Most have very specific habitat needs. They might need grasslands, interior forests and other features to sustain their populations. The Monarch is a prime example. It lays its eggs on– and those larvae eat only– milkweed. And milkweed is one of many wild grass and plant species that have plummeted in the last couple decades. Having habitat that does not change year to year is vital.
As nongame priorities are identified by wildlife experts, they can utilize those funds you provide to improve survival chances for those species. A priority in past years has been to re-establish the iconic Greater Prairie Chicken to restored habitat in southwest Iowa. In the years ahead, expect the Monarch butterfly to get more attention. And when that happens, dozens—hundreds—of other species benefit from the grass and other habitat work.
The Fish & Wildlife Protection Fund has stabilized in the past couple years, after sliding a bit over the decade prior. Still, only about 8000 Iowans—out of about 1.5 million households– ‘check the checkoff’ each year.
Check the Checkoff. It’s a nice way to bring a little wild to the tax season!”