Arrival marks 40 years of Nongame Wildlife Program
The eagles have landed, or hatched, and just in time for the 40th anniversary of the state’s Nongame Wildlife Program, which is part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The EagleCam is one of the ways the program helps wildlife conservation and species recovery efforts in Minnesota.
This year, three eaglets are being viewed around the world as they’re raised by a banded female that returns to the same nest annually. The three eaglets are the next generation to be raised by a banded female that has been viewed around the world as she annually returns to the same nest to mate, lay eggs and fledge her young. Mother eagle was banded at the Raptor Center, where she was rehabilitated from a previous injury.
Forty years of effective conservation
Forty years ago, there were few bald eagles left in the U.S. The Nongame Wildlife Program was instrumental in helping with recovery efforts by the donating 55 chicks to other states. Today, there are more than 10,000 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states, with Minnesota home to the largest population.
The Nongame Wildlife Program is celebrating this achievement alongside many other success stories throughout its 40-year history. Most notable are the recovery of the trumpeter swan, osprey, peregrine falcon, eastern bluebird and Minnesota’s state bird, the loon.
These species are thriving again because of donations, bequests and, especially, contributions through the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff on Minnesota tax forms. These donations also help lesser-known but important nongame species including the timber rattlesnake, northern goshawk, Blanding’s turtle, eastern hognose snake, common tern and many others. Without taxpayer support, the EagleCam would not exist.
The Nongame Wildlife Program is funded entirely through donations. When the checkoff was first instituted in 1980, 138,609 individuals donated through their tax forms. By 2015, the number of individual donations had decreased to 48,940, yet nongame wildlife species continue to experience habitat loss and increased management needs.
Looking for a sound investment this tax season?
The checkoff offers Minnesotans a unique opportunity to invest some or all of their tax refunds to ensure that young and old can enjoy future dividends by being able to watch a frog, turtle or snake, hear a loon and see a bald eagle chick hatch.
Every donation is doubly important to the nongame program because of the compounding effect of matches. Every dollar donated to the nongame fund is matched by revenues from Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat license plates.
Contributions are further multiplied by matching federal grants, other outside funding sources, and funding recommendations from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. This means that every dollar donated is worth much more toward nongame species conservation, research and habitat protection efforts as well as public enjoyment. Nongame “investment strategies” over the past 40 years include a portfolio of projects:
Nongame “investment strategies” over the past 40 years include a portfolio of projects:
- Research on the effects of the BP oil spill on common loons and white pelicans.
- Surveys of summer habitat use by the northern long-eared bat, a federally threatened species, to determine the types of forest used by breeding females.
- Partnerships with local and state conservation groups to promote wildlife tourism and viewing opportunities, including the Pine-to-Prairie International Birding Trail and the annual Detroit Lakes Birding Festival.
- Research, management and recovery efforts that help pollinators, frogs, toads and native mussels, among others.
- The “Get the Lead Out” campaign, which promotes a voluntary change from lead to non-lead tackle and ammunition to prevent lead poisoning in birds, mammals and fish, including the bald eagle and common loon.
Minnesotans can participate in ensuring the future of bald eagles and all nongame species by making an investment in the Nongame Wildlife Program. Consider it a 40th birthday gift to all the wild critters that benefit from this program.
For more information, visit mndnr.gov/nongame.