To support Maine wildlife, check the ‘Chickadee’ on your tax form

In Maine, wildlife research, management and restoration conducted by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife relies on funding provided by a number of sources.

unnamedFor game species — such as white-tailed deer, black bear and wild turkey — research and management is largely funded by hunting license sales and other hunting revenues.

But funding for non-game species — wildlife that can’t be hunted or trapped — is often difficult to find, according to a press release issued today by the DIF&W.

State research and restoration efforts of non-game species relies heavily on funding from volunteer contributions to the income tax form via the Chickadee Check-off, as well as the purchase of Loon Conservation Registration (license) Plate.

“Protecting these valuable species is vital as they comprise the vast majority of Maine’s diverse wildlife and fill valuable roles by contributing to water purification, pollination, and prey for larger species. However, many of these species face population declines due to habitat loss, pollution, roadkill, and other factors,” the DIFW stated in the press release.

chickadeeIt’s tax season. Now’s the time to decide. Are you able and willing to contribute to the work being done to conserve Maine’s non-game and endangered and threatened species? Those species include the turtles and butterflies, songbirds and raptors, the Canada lynx and New England cottontail.

Government funding, in my opinion, can be confusing. So here’s a rundown of just how non-game species research is funded in Maine:

Most of the funding for the research and recovery effort of the non-game species, as well as threatened and endangered species, comes from programs such as the federal State Wildlife Grant, which is only accessible to Maine with a state match. Many state matching dollars typically come from the Loon Conservation Registration Plate and volunteer contributions to the income tax form via the Chickadee Check-off.

By law, funds from the Chickadee Check-off and Loon Conservation Registration Plate can only be used for conservation efforts for such species.

These programs flourished in the mid-1990s but have declined steadily since.

In 1984, taxpayers contributed $115,794 to the Chickadee Checkoff; by 2009, contributions had plummeted 71 percent to $33,751.


Nowadays, with the internet, the public has more access and knowledge of DIF&W wildlife research than ever before. Through, public has access to species assessments, Wildlife Action Plans and news about important research efforts to conserve endangered and threatened species. The public can easily see the work their contributions are supporting.

BDN photo by Aislinn Sarnacki

In the past 30 years — with money from the State Wildlife Grant, matched with the Check-off funds — the DIF&W have conducted numerous projects to conserve a wide variety of species in Maine, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, piping plovers, great blue herons, Canada lynx, several species of bats, New England cottontail, Blanding’s turtles and several rare freshwater mussels. Funds from the Check-Off have also aided citizen science projects like the Maine Butterfly Survey and the Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlasing Project.

“These species and many more depend on you,” the DIFW stated in today’s press release. “Please think of them when you file your taxes for 2015 by considering a contribution to the Chickadee Check-off on form Schedule CP.”

I’ve decided to post a blog about this not-so-exciting tax-related press release because I value the great diversity of wildlife species living in Maine, and I believe these state biologists are truly making a difference based on the many research projects and restoration efforts I’ve learned about while writing for the BDN Outdoors. These projects include many species, including:

When writing about these animals, I often turn to state biologists for help. These people always seem very busy writing applications for grants, completing reports and conducting research in the field, yet they find the time to get back to me and answer my questions. They want the public to know what they’re doing and why it’s important.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at