New Chance to Support Wildlife in Alabama
For over a half century, Alabama hunters have paid for the majority of the management of wildlife species through their purchases of hunting licenses and hunting related merchandise. Now there is an opportunity for non-hunters such as bird watchers, hikers and canoeists to support wildlife by purchasing Alabama’s new Wildlife Heritage License. Through matching funds from the federal government, each $10 license can generate additional matching federal funds for wildlife management. A lifetime option is also available for $200.
In one easy step, outdoor lovers can purchase a Wildlife Heritage License from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at www.outdooralabama.com/licenses or at any of the many locations that sell hunting and fishing licenses. Although the license includes some hunting and fishing privileges, it was designed to give outdoor enthusiasts a way to help improve Alabama’s abundant wildlife and conserve our state’s rich natural heritage.
This new program will help generate funds for outdoor programs throughout the state, such as needed wildlife research; surveying and monitoring wildlife populations; funding outdoor education programs; and developing additional areas for the public to enjoy wildlife.
Alabama is one of the most popular places for the national pastime of wildlife observation, out our back doors and away from home, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s 2006 national survey. In addition, Alabama is the second most bio-diverse state in the country, meaning its plant and animal life is extremely varied.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has numerous successful programs that benefit nongame species–wildlife species that are not hunted. The Department has also developed areas that directly benefit bird watching enthusiasts. A few examples include:
Bald Eagle—Alabama began a bald eagle restoration program in 1984, and eagles now nest in many parts of the state. Surveys show they have increased every year since their re-introduction and now exceed 100 nests statewide. The successful restoration, along with that of other states, led to the bald eagle being removed from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species list.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker—The Safe Harbor Program gives landowners who have suitable habitat for this endangered species an assurance that if they continue to manage their property for mature pine timber and attract red-cockaded woodpeckers, no restrictions will be placed on management practices. Also, if they currently have woodpeckers on their property, they will not be subject to further restrictions if the population increases. Recently, the first red-cockaded woodpeckers were relocated to private lands to increase populations of the bird in our state.
North Alabama Birding Trail—The trail consists of a series of 50 birding stops in 11 north Alabama counties. Interpretive signs help birdwatchers know what species frequent the area and describe visible habitat types. Visit www.northalabamabirdingtrail.com for more details.
Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley encourages birders and others to make the $10 purchase. “I’m often asked by people who don’t hunt or fish what they can do to help conservation in Alabama. Purchasing the Wildlife Heritage License is the perfect way for them to show their support. The great thing is the three-to-one match we get for each dollar. That makes their donation even more valuable,” he said.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit outdooralabama.com.
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