For Immediate Release - March 25, 2011

Wildlife Officials Encourage Taxpayers to Donate to Endangered Species Protection Efforts this Tax Season

Donations fund conservation and protection of box turtles, peregrine falcons, others

List of endangered species and species information

BOSTON - March 25, 2011 - Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin today reminded taxpayers to consider giving to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Fund on their state income tax forms this year.

Since 1983, Massachusetts tax filers of Form 1 have had the option of donating to this effort through DFG's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's (MassWildlife) Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund when filing their state income tax (Line 32a: "Endangered Wildlife Conservation").

All contributions go directly into the fund, which supports the annual operating budget of MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) . NHESP conserves and protects endangered species and their habitats in Massachusetts. Among species listed on the Massachusetts list of endangered, threatened and special concern species are Atlantic sturgeon, the Eastern box turtle, blue-spotted salamander, peregrine falcons and the Northern right whale.

Rare species in Massachusetts are threatened primarily by habitat loss or degradation. Management of rare species may mean giving special help to species that have been lost from the state or that are dangerously close to being lost.

Among the Commonwealth's wildlife conservation success stories is that of the bald eagle. A victim of habitat loss and reproductive failure linked to exposure to pesticides such as DDT, bald eagle populations plummeted across the country before being first listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966. They were taken off the federal list in 2007, thanks to the success of restoration efforts. Listed as endangered in Massachusetts since the 1980s, bald eagles remain on the state list but are gaining ground in the Bay State - thanks in large part to a restoration project begun in 1982 by MassWildlife and its partners. In January of this year, state wildlife officials, conservationists and volunteers spotted a record number of bald eagles during an annual one-day survey breaking the all- time state record set in 2009. Statewide, the number of eagles surveyed has risen from eight birds counted in 1979 to 107 in 2011.

More than 20,000 tax filers support wildlife conservation programs with over $200,000 in donations annually. The contributions fund efforts to study, protect, and restore endangered animals and plants and their habitats. Donations help restore populations and conserve and maintain habitat for many vulnerable species of wildlife, from raptors to reptiles.

In addition to donating on their tax forms, people can may make contributions directly to the Fund by sending a check payable to the "Commonwealth of Mass-NHESP Fund" and send it to NHESP, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd, Westborough, MA, 01581.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.