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Wildlife Conservation Fund History

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Hunters, fishermen and trappers have financially and politically supported the conservation of game and furbearing species since the early 1900s. These dollars have improved habitat that has benefited much of Nebraska’s wildlife, but these dollars need to stay focused on game species management. 

But what about the 97% of species that are not hunted or fished?  The Wildlife Conservation Fund has the flexibility to be adaptable and focus dollars on species that are declining to prevent future endangered species listings, to provide valuable education support, to provide opportunities for Nebraskans to enjoy viewing wildlife.
Although Nebraska's Nongame Wildlife Program began in 1971, financial support was quite limited since hunter license monies could stretch only so far. Significant development of the program did not occur until the Nebraska Legislature passed the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act in 1975. That act established the policy that the state shall conserve nongame species, and species determined to be endangered or threatened, for human enjoyment, for scientific purposes, and to ensure their continued existence as a part of our natural world. With the act came financial aid from general tax revenues that allowed the nongame program to take root and grow. Now the general public, not just the hunter or fisherman, was helping preserve a resource from which all of us receive benefit.

Since the nongame program involves a wide range of species and the problems and questions needing solutions are many and varied, financial aid from general tax revenues provided only a start toward the total effort needed. An additional source of funding had to be found. That came in 1984 when the Nebraska Legislature established the State Income Tax Check-off for Nongame Wildlife. A line on the state income tax form allows a taxpayer receiving a refund to contribute all or part of that refund to the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Fund. It is also possible for anyone, including taxpayers not entitled to a tax refund, to contribute directly to the fund. Funding generated through the check-off is vital, for without it, critical conservation programs for nongame and endangered wildlife would not be possible.

In 2007 the name of the fund was changed from the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Fund to the Wildlife Conservation Fund to better reflect the impact of the fund.
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