Record numbers of viewers are watching a Minnesota bald eagle pair on the Department of Natural Resources EagleCam, especially now that the young pair are caring for two eggs in the nest. This time of year is also when people can help our state’s wildlife with matched donations using the simple checkoff on Minnesota tax forms.

The EagleCam is just one of many ways the Nongame Wildlife Program helps hundreds of wildlife species. The program focuses on helping animals that aren’t hunted, from eagles and loons to turtles and butterflies. Many of these species are rare and vulnerable to decline, especially in light of a changing climate. Line 22 of the Minnesota income tax form – marked by a loon – provides individuals with an opportunity to invest in the future of nongame wildlife.

When taxpayers designate an amount they would like to donate to the Nongame Wildlife Program, their tax-deductible donations are matched one-to-one by state critical habitat license plate funds. These donated and matched dollars are the foundation of funding for the work of the Nongame Wildlife Program.

That work includes researching how creatures fit within functioning ecosystems, managing habitat, and assisting with recovery efforts for rare species. Over the program’s 43-year history, it has played an important role in the recovery of bald eagles, trumpeter swans, eastern bluebirds, peregrine falcons and many more species. The Nongame Wildlife Program also provides nature education, including the popular EagleCam, now in its eighth year. The video camera streams live video from a Twin Cities bald eagle nest.