Georgia’s wildlife and natural habitats don’t depend on St. Nick.

When it comes to conservation, these wild creatures and wild places depend largely on Georgians.

The mission of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section is conserving animals that are not legally fished for or hunted, as well as rare plants and natural habitats. Yet the agency receives no state appropriations.

The vital work involving more than 1,000 species of conservation concern – from bald eagles to North Atlantic right whales – is funded by public contributions, fundraisers and grants.

This holiday season, here are four ways you can help conserve our native nongame animals and plants:

  • Contribute to the Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund. Created by state law, this fund is dedicated to conserving the most vulnerable animals, plants and habitats. Especially noteworthy with end of the year near: Donations are deductible to the extent allowed by law.
  • When preparing your 2013 taxes, give to the Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff.
  • Buy a new-design bald eagle license plate, or renew your current hummingbird or eagle plate. Each sale or renewal provides $10 to the Wildlife Conservation Fund.
  • Join TERN, friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section. The Environmental Resources Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides significant support for nongame statewide.

Learn more about all of the above at

Whether it’s gopher tortoises or Georgia asters in bloom, Georgia’s nongame wildlife “enrich our quality of life,” said Nongame Conservation Section Chief Mike Harris.

These creatures and places also enrich our economy. In 2011, wildlife watchers spent an estimated $1.8 billion in Georgia, and more than 2.2 million state residents 16 or older spent time observing, photographing or feeding wildlife, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey.

Conservation of many of the species people are watching “depends on giving,” Harris said.

Explore options, including estate, memorial and other gifts, at . Or call the Nongame Conservation Section, part of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, at (770) 761-3035 or (478) 994-1438. Details on TERN are available at

Logo courtesy Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division

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