DNR license plates support wildlife conservation in Georgia; other DNR news

Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:25pm
By: The Citizen

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (January 16, 2007) — Georgia residents who have purchased a wildlife license plate for their vehicle can be proud that they have helped support the conservation of many different plant and animal species in the state.

These popular tags are made available through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) to raise money for conservation.

Available for a one-time fee of $25, these four plates include the bald eagle with American flag, hummingbird with trumpet creeper blossom, bobwhite quail with white tail deer, and the Trout Unlimited tag.

The wildlife license plates represent Georgia’s most popular specialty tags. From December 2005 through November 2006, Georgia drivers purchased approximately 52,000 bald eagle tags, 36,000 bobwhite quail tags, 29,000 hummingbird tags and 2,000 Trout Unlimited tags.

“Numerous projects and programs across Georgia that focus on conserving and managing wildlife are dependent on the revenue generated from these tags,” said Mike Harris, chief of the WRD Nongame Conservation Section. “We are encouraged that the wildlife license plates continue to reflect strong public support.”

The bald eagle and hummingbird plates fund a variety of nongame projects including efforts to aid the recovery of Georgia’s bald eagle population.

As recently as the 1970s, no active bald eagles nests could be found in Georgia. Fortunately, through the successful recovery and conservation efforts conducted by state and federal wildlife agencies nationwide, this is no longer the case.

In 2006, WRD surveys documented 96 nests in Georgia, fledging a total of 126 young eagles. This success has helped account for the proposed delisting of the bald eagle from the federal threatened and endangered species list.

The bald eagle/American flag plate and the hummingbird plate support the Nongame Conservation Section. The section works to protect Georgia’s nongame and endangered wildlife through efforts such as monitoring the state’s bald eagle population, conserving swallow-tailed kites, protecting loggerhead sea turtle nests on coastal beaches and restoring longleaf pine/wiregrass habitat for species such as red cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises and many species of songbirds.

There are no state general fund revenues provided for nongame wildlife conservation, education and recreation programs. These important projects are funded solely through federal grants, direct donations and fundraising initiatives like the nongame wildlife license plate.

Other important projects such as the Bobwhite Quail Initiative, and the restoration and stocking of trout streams in North Georgia, also depend heavily on the wildlife tag for funding.

The bobwhite quail and whitetail deer plate supports the Bobwhite Quail Initiative administered by WRD. The program’s primary goal is to restore habitat for bobwhite quail, Georgia’s state game bird, and certain songbirds that have experienced severe population declines since the 1960s.

Additional benefits from BQI practices include reduced soil erosion, improved water quality and increased opportunity for wildlife-associated recreation. BQI provides landowners or cooperators with technical assistance and, in certain cases, financial incentives for habitat establishment and maintenance.

The Trout Unlimited tag benefits the WRD Fisheries Management Section’s trout conservation and management program. This includes trout production, stocking and stream restoration in North Georgia.

DNR’s wildlife plates are currently available at any county tag office and can be purchased for a one-time fee of $25. Tags can be purchased at the office counter or by checking the appropriate wildlife license plate box on your mail-in registration form. For online renewals, visit http://mvd.dor.ga.gov/tags .

For more information on Georgia’s wildlife license plates and the important projects they support, visit www.georgiawildlife.com.


Cook County resident reels in new state record green sunfish!

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (January 16, 2007) — Angler Jeff Sumner of Lenox (Cook County) had more than just a great day of fishing in a private pond Feb. 25, 2006 — he managed to catch a new state record.

Sumner reeled in a 1 lb. 7 oz., 11-inch green sunfish, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). The most recent state record for a green sunfish was a 1 lb. 4 oz. fish caught in Franklin County in 2004.

“It is always exciting for anyone to reel in a state record and this reminds us that Georgia is such a fantastic place for anglers because there are so many fishing opportunities and resources available,” says WRD Fisheries Management Chief Chuck Coomer. “We hope that the recognition of this new state record will inspire experienced and novice anglers to get out and fish at any one of Georgia’s numerous lakes and rivers. You might not catch a new state record, but odds are you will still have a great day of fishing.”

Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) are members of the sunfish family, which includes bass and bream. They are more thick-bodied than other sunfish and are a bluish-green color with emerald and yellow iridescence on their cheeks. Their belly is yellow to white and they have black earflaps with a white to yellow/orange margin. Typically they live in ponds and slow moving pools in streams and rivers. They are very tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions. Green sunfish will eat anything they can catch and swallow.

Because of their highly predatory nature they are one of the easiest fish to catch and will readily bite on small worms and insects. However, most fish that are routinely caught are not very large. Green sunfish rarely exceed 6-7 inches in length and a typical weight (for Georgia) is less than one-half pound. The world record weight is 2 pounds, two ounces from Missouri and Kansas (tie).

Information about state record fish can be found on the WRD website at www.gofishgeorgia.com or in the Sport Fishing Regulations Guidebook available at all WRD offices and all license agents.

Make plans now for your fishing trip, and don’t forget to introduce someone new to fishing. For more information about fishing opportunities in Georgia, visit the WRD website at www.gofishgeorgia.com or call a WRD Fisheries Management Office.

Take Me Fishing! * A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So pack up the family, fishing rods and bait, and create an exciting new family tradition.


Contributing to wildlife conservation in Georgia made easy through tax checkoff

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (January 16, 2007) - As 2007 kicks off and Georgians receive their annual income tax information, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) reminds residents that they can support wildlife at tax time each year. The State Income Tax Checkoff provides an easy way for Georgians to donate to the Wildlife Conservation Fund. Proceeds from this initiative are used to fund critical wildlife conservation projects statewide.

“The income tax checkoff is an easy way to donate to wildlife conservation,” said Mike Harris, WRD Nongame Conservation Section Chief. “Donations made to the Nongame Conservation Section — including the nongame wildlife license plate program and the income tax checkoff — raise more than 80 percent of our annual project budget. This is especially important because the Section receives no state appropriations for its numerous conservation projects each year.”

By filling in any amount over $1 on line 27 of the long form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short form (Form 500EZ), citizens can make a direct donation to support nongame species management and conservation in Georgia. For those receiving a refund, the donation can be deducted from the amount of the refund. For those who owe taxes, the donation can be added to the payment. Georgians donated more than $339,000 through the checkoff in 2005.

The income tax checkoff and the wildlife license plates depicting a bald eagle or hummingbird are important funding sources for conservation projects benefiting peregrine falcons, manatees, frogs, salamanders, sea turtles, songbirds, native plants and wildlife and plants. Funds raised from the checkoff and wildlife tags also help purchase critical habitat and fund conservation, recreation and education projects throughout the state.

For more information on projects funded with checkoff and wildlife tag dollars, visit www.georgiawildlife.com or contact the Wildlife Resources Division, Nongame Conservation Section, 116 Rum Creek Drive, Forsyth, Ga., 31029, (478) 994-1438. Through support of both the checkoff and nongame wildlife tags, Georgians can help give wildlife a chance.

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