This Thanksgiving, Help Give Georgia's Wildlife A Chance

  • Monday, November 19, 2012
  • Melissa Cummings
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
photo by Clay George

Are you grateful for Georgia’s wildlife and wild places?

During this season of thanks, you can help conserve our most endangered animals, plants and habitats.

From bald eagles to longleaf pine savannas, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section is charged with conserving animals that are not legally fished for or hunted, as well as rare plants and natural habitats. The list includes more than 1,000 species of conservation concern!

Yet the Nongame Conservation Section receives no state appropriations for its vital work. Instead, the section depends on grants, fundraisers and public contributions.

That means the future of creatures such as gopher tortoises and goldline darters and the habitats they need to survive depends largely on the public.

Nongame Conservation Section Chief Mike Harris said that while Thanksgiving has roots in celebrating the sustaining harvest of natural resources, that thankfulness also extends to the nongame wildlife in Georgia “that we like to see and that enrich our quality of life.”

“Conservation of these species,” said Mr. Harris, “depends on giving.”

Here are four ways you can help give Georgia wildlife a chance:

  • Contribute to the Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund. Created by state law, this fund is dedicated to conserving our most vulnerable animals, plants and habitats.
  • When preparing your 2012 taxes, give to the Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff. Donations are deductible to the extent allowed by law.
  • 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.
  • Buy a bald eagle or hummingbird license plate, or renew your current Give Wildlife a Chance plate! For each sale or renewal, $10 goes to the Wildlife Conservation Fund.

You can learn more about these options, as well as 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

DNR and its conservation partners have made strides in conserving Georgia’s nongame wildlife.

Examples include:

  • Loggerhead sea turtles are nesting at a 25-year high.
  • Bald eagle nests in the state have soared from fewer than 10 to more than 160.
  • Thousands of acres of wildlife habitat have been acquired for conservation, including 37,000 acres along the Altamaha River, all of it open for other recreation such as hunting. 

Contributions to the Wildlife Conservation Fund also help attract and match grants. The Nongame Conservation Section gains about $1 for every 25 cents spent from the fund.

Public support made these conservation achievements possible.

And that is something to give thanks for.

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