Check a box on tax form, help out wildlife

It’s tax season, and the hunt is on for refunds.

We all want to save every penny and get every dollar back we can from our hard-earned annual earnings. 

But it’s also nice to give a little back.

There’s a tiny box near the bottom of your Colorado income tax form that can be checked to donate funds to help threatened and endangered wildlife. Donations go to the Colorado Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund.

Colorado has more than 750 species of wildlife that fall into the category “nongame” species. These are animals that are not hunted, fished or trapped, including boreal toads, lynx, sage-grouse, prairie dogs, Arkansas darters and many more.

Hold it — Arkansas darters?

I had to look it up. It’s a small-finned fish in the perch family.

Funds are used in a variety of programs to help threatened and endangered wildlife through Colorado Parks and Wildlife conversation programs.

Some of these programs work with private landowners concerning wildlife issues and continue to investigate the survival rates and health of these species.

Programs include working with landowners on the release spots for the black-footed ferret; researching and monitoring the population of the greater sage-grouse; studying the survival rates of the white-tailed ptarmigan; and even looking to protect some of those pesky prairie dogs from a plague virus.

Then there are bats.

Those creatures are so vital to many aspects of our ecosystem, so we should never turn a blind eye to those creepy fliers.

The work to preserve and monitor some of the state’s bat species is fascinating. 

More than 5 million bats have died in the northeast United States because of something called white noise syndrome.

The CPW is currently monitoring Colorado’s bat populations to make sure they remain healthy.

How about the Colorado cutthroat trout?

A CPW program continues to try and grow populations of the greenback cutthroat, the rarest native fish in the state.

People who know their Colorado fish species will know there’s no guarantee of survival. The now extinct yellowfin cutthroat is the example of that.

Those are just a few of the many programs that need funds to be successful.

Reid DeWalt, assistant director of CPW’s Wildlife and Natural Resources branch, said all funds for these programs come from contributions.

“CPW is vested in the long-term sustainability and balance of wildlife for future generations. Doing so is not without cost, and will be done only with the support of all outdoor recreationalists,” she said. 

A lot of programs that could use our help with the check of a tiny box on your Colorado state income tax form.

In 2014, more than $150,000 was donated through the tax check off.

This is one of those typical situations where any amount helps.

So help out a bat or two, a unique toad, a special ferret, the Arkansas darter or Colorado cutthroat.

It’s not an easy job keeping wildlife wild and protecting these threatened and endangered species, but the CPW is working hard to ensure that happens.


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