Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program
In 1973, the state legislature passed the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act, which authorized the Indiana DNR to develop programs to manage and conserve nongame and endangered species. Nongame refers to any wild mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish, mollusk, or crustacean that is not hunted or trapped for sport or commercial use. Endangered species are any animal species whose prospects for survival or recruitment within the state are in immediate jeopardy and are in danger of disappearing from the state. This includes all species classified as endangered or threatened by the federal government that occur in Indiana.
In 1981, the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program had its functional start when the Division of Fish & Wildlife hired its first nongame wildlife biologist. One year later, the legislature established the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund, a dedicated fund to support nongame and endangered species conservation in Indiana. Additional staff were hired in the following years, and the program’s name and location within the agency changed with internal restructures and growing national interest in nongame and endangered species conservation. By 2003, Indiana had four nongame biologists to develop statewide programs for the following species groups: mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and fish and freshwater mussels.
The Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program does not receive any state tax dollars. For the first 20 years, it was funded almost exclusively by voluntary contributions to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund. Today, there are several ways to donate. Hoosiers have generously donated more than $13 million since the fund was established in 1982.
In 1986, the Indiana DNR signed an Endangered Species Act Section 6 Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). For the first time, the Division of Fish & Wildlife was eligible to receive federal matching funds for projects to benefit federally-listed species. Beginning in 2001, additional federal funds were made available through the State Wildlife Grant program administered by the USFWS. These funds must be used to benefit a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), as identified in each State Wildlife Action Plan. Indiana defines a SGCN as one that is listed as state endangered or state special concern (Indiana's SGCN). There are more than 150 SGCN in the Indiana Wildlife Action Plan. Once a project is approved, states are eligible to receive up to a 75% reimbursement of the total project cost. The Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund provides the non-federal match needed to participate in the State Wildlife Grant program. Indiana has received nearly $20 million in State Wildlife Grant funds since the program was established.