Georgia is home to an amazing cornucopia of native wildlife. More than 95 percent of these animals are called nongame because they are not fished, trapped or hunted. Nongame wildlife includes birds of prey such as the bald eagle and peregrine falcon, songbirds like the wood thrush and painted bunting, sea turtles, indigo snakes, spotted salamanders, tree frogs and other reptiles. On the list of Georgia’s nongame animals are mammals are manatees and whales as well as scores of lesser known animals. Some like the red-cockaded woodpecker and Northern Right Whale are among the rarest of the rare. Others such as the bog turtle live in a handful of small bogs in North Georgia while Eastern bluebirds and ruby-throated hummingbirds make their homes in our backyards.
The Georgia Wildlife Resources Conservation Section is charged with the daunting task of meeting the conservation needs of this incredibly diverse group of animals as well as more than 3,000 native plants such as trilliums and lady slippers. What is even more remarkable is that the state of Georgia does not appropriate any state funds to do the job. Although the Section receives some federal monies and private grants, its work is primarily financed with contributions from concerned citizens. These donations are made through the sale of Nongame license tags; giving through the the Nongame Income Tax Checkoff when Georgia Income Taxes are filed, The Weekend For Wildlife and monies raised by the Section’s friends Group – The Environmental Resources Network (TERN).
TERN is the ONLY organization that raises funds solely for the conservation of the state’s nongame resources. Monies generated by TERN support nongame wildlife research, surveys, management, land purchases and education.
Education has long been a special interest of TERN. The organization is particularly concerned that today’s youth are disconnected with the land and the wild plants and animals that inhabit it. This is called Nature Deficit Disorder. With that in mind, TERN has been a strong supporter of the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Section’s efforts to imbue Georgia’s young people with what Rachel Carson called, a sense of wonder for the natural world.
Since TERN fosters the conservation and enjoyment of wildlife in our backyards as well as other urban and suburban areas, it is a sponsor of this blog. The vast majority of our wildlife watching takes place just outside our backdoor as well as in nearby public lands. It is here where adults and children alike can strengthen the often frayed bond between the natural world and humans. The native animals and plants that live close by enhance our quality of life.
In addition, an astounding array of wildlife live on these lands. According to a study sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and others, “…two-thirds of all North American wildlife species in the lower 48 states range within urban suburban areas, including 500 rare or endangered animals that live only in metropolitan areas.”
The citizens of Georgia are blessed with a treasure trove of natural wonders. Georgia is also one of the fastest growing states in the country. As such, one of the most significant challenges facing us during the 21st century is find ways to find ways to prosper without sacrificing the plants and animals with whom we share the world. This can only be accomplished through the combined efforts of all of us.
Indeed, perhaps the best gifts that we can bestow on our children and grandchildren is an appreciation of the natural world and a state that rich is wild plants and animals.
If you would like more information regarding TERN, please contact Wanda Granitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world in not given by his Father but borrowed from his children.
John James Audubon