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IDFG struggling with non-game funding

| April 16, 2010 9:00 PM

TWIN FALLS (AP) - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is encouraging residents to help its non-game species program by buying specialized license plates or making donations.

Rex Sallabanks, the agency's state non-game manager, said the program has lost about $250,000 of its $1 million non-game budget over the last two years, which also resulted in a loss of federal matching funds.

He said much of the reduction happened because fewer people are buying elk, trout or mountain bluebird specialty license plates, with $10 of each sale going to the agency for non-game programs.

Money raised from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses can't be used for non-game programs.

Sallabanks told The Times-News that the agency is saving money by cutting back on surveys of species at risk, including not making annual checks of every bald eagle and peregrine falcon nest in the state.

Earlier this year, lawmakers rejected a proposal to require visitors to state wildlife management areas buy a $10 permit, some of which would have gone to Fish and Game's non-game programs.

And officials say there isn't much support for taxing non-hunting equipment such as binoculars, or having some of the state's general fund help pay for non-game programs.

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