On International Wildlife Day, the Department of Environmental Conservation reminds New Yorkers they can help conserve wildlife in New York by donating to the "Return a Gift to Wildlife" program when they complete their income tax forms by April 15.
"New Yorkers have a long and proud heritage of protecting wildlife and natural resources in the state, and the 'Return a Gift to Wildlife' program provides a great opportunity to directly contribute to the state's conservation efforts," DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "On International Wildlife Day, I urge all state residents to consider making a donation to this valuable program on their income tax returns and help the state protect our valuable wildlife species and their habitats."
The State Legislature established "Return a Gift to Wildlife" in 1982 to help provide additional funds to enhance DEC's fish and wildlife program. Since its inception, more than 250 projects have been fully or partially funded through the program, such as helping nesting loons on Adirondack lakes, restoring peregrine falcons in Buffalo, and protecting diamond-backed terrapins on Long Island.
The New York Natural Heritage Program has used program funding to inventory rare species and identify their important habitats for protection. Project Wild, a program providing instruction to elementary and secondary school teachers about incorporating wildlife education in school curricula, is also funded through "Return a Gift to Wildlife."
The program receives an average of $450,000 annually through the generous donations of New York taxpayers. It allows DEC and its partners to leverage additional federal funds for natural resource conservation, multiplying the benefits of these donations.
Contributions can be made by filling in an amount on line 60a of the New York state income tax form IT-201. Direct contributions may also be made throughout the year to "Return a Gift to Wildlife," Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4751. For more information on the program, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/327.html.