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Support Endangered Species
Stable Funding to Address Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Programs is Desperately Needed!
From its inception in the late 1800s, the Department's mission has changed from one narrowly focused on developing sport fisheries and enhancing compliance with fish and game laws, to one of being a steward of all fish and wildlife species, as well as serving the thousands of people who seek various outdoor recreational opportunities in Maine.
Nongame, and Endangered and Threatened [E&T] species were initially the responsibility of one small group of biologists. Over time, the Department integrated all nongame and E&T species management responsibilities throughout the fabric of the agency. This allowed the department to address the full spectrum of Maine's inland fish and wildlife, including invertebrates, by utilizing the department's current personnel and resources in the most effective manner. The department accomplished this essentially without adding new positions and by competing for federal and private funding.
Funding Programs for Nongame and Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
Volunteer contributions to the Chickadee Check-off on Maine's income tax form initially provided funding for nongame and E&T species. The department deposits check-off contributions into the Maine Endangered and Nongame Wildlife Fund [ENWF] ? a dedicated, interest-bearing account. In 1984, taxpayers contributed $115,794 to the Chickadee Check-off; by 2009, contributions had plummeted 71% to $33,751.
In the early 1990s, Maine's legislature established the Conservation Registration Plate (Loon Plate) as an additional source of funding for the program. Nongame and E&T species receive a portion of the fee charged for these plates. In 1998, the ENWF received a high of $617,484 in contributions, but by 2009 contributions had declined by nearly 50% to $316,148.
Currently, in addition to the above funding sources, nongame and E&T species receive funding from a federal program called the State Wildlife Grant Program ? roughly $550,000 per year, which supports ten full-time positions. The program also receives an average of $150,000 annually from competitive grants funded by the state's Outdoor Heritage Fund and about $26,000 per year from federal Section 6 funds. Smaller contributions to nongame and endangered and threatened species come from the purchase of Birder Bands and the Maine Sportsman License Plate.
This may seem like a lot of money, but the level of responsibility is high. There are currently 22 endangered and 23 threatened species on Maine's list of Endangered and Threatened species, and 158 Species of Special Concern. Many of these species require intensive monitoring and/or management. Department staff working on nongame and E&T species continue to operate at a high level of professionalism and efficiency, but the lack of predictable funding and ability to acquire needed match for federal funds, continues to hamper our ability to ensure the long-term viability of Maine's most vulnerable species.
Given our limited financial resources, Maine can be proud of the accomplishments for nongame and endangered wildlife in the state including the delisting of the bald eagle in 2009, a species that was on the brink of extinction in the 1960s. There are now over 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles in Maine. The department also launched a landmark study of the Canada lynx, which has gleaned critical data about this species in the Northeast. These data have served the department well, particularly in its response to lawsuits from various entities. Other species that are being studied, monitored, or intensively managed include the black racer, butterflies, dragonflies, Blanding's and spotted turtles, marsh birds, New England cottontail rabbit, and the piping plover, to name a few.
We THANK all of you who purchase a Loon Plate, Sportsman Plate, contribute to the Chickadee Check-off on your income tax return, or purchase a Birder Band or Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund lottery ticket. Your support for the conservation of nongame and endangered and threatened species each year is greatly appreciated!