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Wildlife Diversity personnel are part of the Division of Fish & Wildlife within the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Ten Diversity biologists oversee statewide responsibilities for the management and conservation of nongame and endangered species. The responsibilities of four biologists and their assistants are divided among these species groups: fish and freshwater mussels, reptiles and amphibians, birds, and mammals.
In 1973, Indiana passed the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. The Act authorized the DNR to develop programs to protect and manage rare species. The Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program was established in 1981. One year later, the state legislature created a funding source for program projects, the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund. In 2003, the program was renamed the Wildlife Diversity Section, a term used by many states to designate programs responsible for nongame and endangered species conservation within natural resource agencies. In 2014, changes in the structure of the Division of Fish & Wildlife prompted the realignment of Wildlife Diversity personnel under the umbrella of the Wildlife Science Unit.
Wildlife Diversity projects do not receive state tax appropriations. They are funded through voluntary contributions to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund. One way to contribute is the state income tax check off. Look for the eagle logo on your Indiana state tax form to donate all or a portion of your refund. The Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund is used exclusively for the protection, management and identification of species in greatest need of conservation as defined by Indiana’s Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy.
Starting in 2000, federal funds were made available through the State Wildlife Grant Program administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Program funds can only be used on species in greatest need of conservation and their habitats, as listed in each state’s Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy. Once a project is approved, states can receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the total project cost. The Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund provides the non-federal match needed for the division to participate in the program.