The Chickadee Checkoff

Do you enjoy watching eagles, butterflies, and cranes? Do you also enjoy hearing frogs and songbirds? If so, you should consider contributing to the Fish and Wildlife Fund (also known as the “Chickadee Checkoff”) on this year’s Iowa state tax return. It’s an easy way for us all to help out our nongame wildlife species.
Nongame animals are species that are not hunted, fished, or trapped. In Iowa, that includes over 1,000 fish and wildlife species, including raptors, songbirds, bats, frogs, and butterflies. Unfortunately, the Checkoff is one of the only regular sources of funding those species have. Game animals such as ducks, geese, deer, turkeys, and pheasants benefit from money generated by hunting and fishing licenses, but non-game species don’t have that advantage.
Chickadee Checkoff money is used for many different things that benefit nongame species. Some of it is used to improve or restore wildlife habitat critical for at-risk species. Some of it is used to study species such as bald eagles, herons, frogs, and bats that need consistent monitoring. Recent research projects have studied the nesting success of Barn Owls in Iowa, as well as the status of the endangered Rusty-patched Bumblebee. Much of this research is conducted through citizen science projects that involve volunteers from all across the state. And Checkoff money is also used to educate people about various non-game species, their status in Iowa, and how we can all help them out.
Unfortunately, only about 7,200 Iowa taxpayers (less than .5 percent) contributed to the fund in 2020, donating about $150,000. Although that is a significant amount of money, it doesn’t go far when there are over 1,000 nongame species in Iowa that depend upon that money. Taxpayers can decide how much they want to contribute and the average donation in 2020 was just under $21. But, if every Iowa taxpayer would donate just $1 to the fund, over $1.7 million could be raised, more than 11 times what is currently contributed. And, all of the money goes directly to fish and wildlife projects; none of it goes to administrative costs.
Fortunately, donating to the Checkoff is easy to do. If you’d like to help out, you can designate how much you’d like to contribute by going to Section 9 on your 1040 tax form and looking for the Fish and Wildlife Fund. The money will then either be automatically taken off your refund or added to what you already owe. That’s all there is to it. So, if you enjoy seeing and hearing all the wonderful species of animals that we are fortunate enough to have here in Iowa, consider helping them out with a donation on this year’s tax form.

Lake Mills Graphic

204 N. Mill Street
Lake Mills, IA 50450

Office Number: (641) 592-4222
Fax Number: (641) 592-6397

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