Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today reminded New Jersey residents they can help secure the future of the State's threatened and endangered wildlife by making a dedicated donation when they file their State income tax returns this year.
"Despite being the nation's most densely populated state, New Jersey has an incredible diversity of wildlife, including some of the world's most beautiful and rare animals,'' said Commissioner Martin. "These are special creatures that need our protection, and which we'd like to preserve in the Garden State for our children and future generations. We can support this important effort by making a simple check-off for wildlife on our State income-tax returns."
Residents should look for Line 58 -- the New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Fund -- on the NJ 1040 income tax form, or remind their tax preparers they want to make a contribution. Each donated dollar goes directly to the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife, enabling its Endangered and Nongame Species Program biologists to continue their work to restore, conserve and enhance New Jersey's populations of rare species.
Each contribution is matched by an equal amount of federal funding, which further strengthens efforts to protect imperiled species.
The Endangered and Nongame Species Program manages nearly 500 wildlife species, including 73 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, mammals and fish currently listed as endangered or threatened. The program is funded almost entirely by federal grants, which require matching state funds from the state income-tax check-off and sales of New Jersey's distinctive Conserve Wildlife license plate.
Those two revenue sources, which generated $292,000 in 2010 and $1.8 million over the past five years, help finance efforts by DEP biologists to prevent some rare species from becoming extinct in New Jersey, and to make sure other creatures do not have to be added to the state's list of endangered and threatened species.
For more than 30 years, income tax check off donations has paid wildlife dividends. Some examples:
* New Jersey biologists restored our bald eagle population from one nest in 1979 to 82 nesting pairs today.
* New Jersey biologists have led the international effort to prevent the Western Hemisphere extinction of the red knot, which depends on the eggs of spawning Delaware Bay horseshoe crabs they devour in New Jersey each spring to fuel an epic migration from their South American breeding grounds to Canadian Arctic nesting grounds.
* The bobcat was reintroduced in New Jersey 30 years ago, and research and protection efforts since then have allowed this secretive cat to establish a foothold in the northern third of the state.
* More than 30 years of intensive management and cooperative efforts with coastal communities have prevented the State extinction of three New Jersey beach nesting birds, the piping plover, least tern and black skimmer.
* Peregrine falcons disappeared from New Jersey in the 1960's but through a reintroduction project and intensive management we now have a stable population of 20 nesting pairs statewide.
"New Jersey's state income tax check-off for wildlife provides an opportunity for residents to be a partner in the endangered and rare species conservation challenges that are already met and the ones that lie ahead,'' said Amy Cradic, Assistant DEP Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. "We would like to thank all of the generous State residents who have participated with us in this effort by contributing via the check-off process in previous years.''
For information on the Conserve Wildlife license plates, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensp/plates.htm