Pioneer Ridge

Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — Tax season is just around the corner. Many may dread the time, but Wapello County Naturalist Annette Wittrock said it can be a time to make a difference for birds, butterflies, frogs, turtles and many other animals.

Wittrock said an estimated 7,300 Wapello County residents donated some or all of their state tax refund to the Fish and Wildlife Fund on 2018 tax returns. “This translates to less than $140,000 in support of wildlife conservation in Iowa,” she said.

Wittrock said donating is easy. A person enters a donation amount on the Fish and Wildlife check-off contribution line (line 57 on form 1040) and the sum is either automatically deducted from their refund or added to the amount owed. Wittrock recommends talking to a tax preparer to have their taxes done professionally, as taxpayers may forget to mention donation opportunities.

Any bit of contribution will go toward the state’s wildlife diversity program, which protects non-game and vulnerable species. Protection is done through habitat development, data collection and research, education and much more.

“Instead of focusing on specific species, the WDP has shifted its focus to landscape and ecosystem management, statewide inventory and monitoring of all wildlife species,” Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ website said, “and training volunteer wildlife surveyors, while still continuing public outreach functions and a reduced species reintroduction program. The program also currently oversees implementation of the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that will help guide DNR’s fish and wildlife management activities over the next 25 years.”

Wittrock said even the smallest donation will make a difference for the environment and wildlife.

“If every Iowa taxpayer [including those in Wapello County], donated just $1 on the Fish and Wildlife Check-off, it would mean $1.5 million for natural resource conservation,” she said. “So, if you’re able, take a moment this tax season to get a little wild and consider making a donation. The 1,000-plus species of birds, butterflies, mammals, frogs, toads, turtles and dragonflies that call Iowa home will thank you.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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