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The money that comes from the sale of Personalized License Plates is, by law, directed to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for the management of wildlife which are not hunted, fished, or trapped. Since 1974, this has been the primary source of funding for the activities described below.

What Wildlife Are Involved?

Fish and wildlife that are not hunted fished, or trapped fall into the category that is frequently referred to as "Nongame Wildlife". This diverse group of wildlife species includes mammals (e.g. endangered species such as grizzly bear and woodland caribou, as well as squirrels, mice, and other small mammals), birds (song birds, sea birds, hawks and owls, etc.), reptiles, amphibians, fish (e.g. Olympic mudminnow), and terrestrial invertebrates (e.g. butterflies). This group, which includes most of Washington's terrestrial vertebrate animals, has over 650 species, while the number of invertebrates is uncounted. Historically, these animals were managed by a part of the Department of Fish and Wildlife called the "Nongame Program". More recently this section as been renamed the "Wildlife Diversity Division". Nongame fishes and aquatic invertebrates are managed by the Fisht Program.

What Does "Management" Include?

Field Surveys: Ground and aerial surveys are conducted on numerous species, mostly those nongame species whose populations are rare or suspected to be unhealthy. These include: bald eagles, spotted owls, marbled murrelets, western pond turtles, pygmy rabbits, snowy plover, and ferruginous hawks. Some surveys are also conducted on declining species groups, such as neotropical migrant birds or on wildlife communities associated with priority habitats such as shrub-steppe and oak woodlands.

Research: Some of the funds are devoted to researching the ecology of species of concern and their habitats. On-going research projects are bald eagle disturbance factors, shrub-steppe ecology, marine mammal biology and fishery interactions, marbled murrelet biology, and woodland caribou re- introduction.

Data Base Management: Very little research had been done on nongame species when prior to the early 1970's, and very little was known about these species. In the last two decades, there has been considerable investment in developing a computerized data base that can be used by all agency programs, other agencies, and members of the public who have a need for biological and distributional information on these species.

Endangered Species Management: The Wildlife Diversity Division has the responsibility to evaluate the health of wildlife populations for the purpose of providing recommendations to the Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding the listing and recovery of "endangered", "threatened", and "sensitive" species. Recovery projects include peregrine falcon and pond turtle captive breeding and release, silverspot butterfly meadow restoration, and snowy plover beach protection zones.

Technical Consultation: The Wildlife Diversity Division maintains a staff of experts on various nongame species to advise other programs, other agencies, and private entities to better plan land use and commercial and industrial activities in ways that will protect habitat and provide for the needs of nongame wildlife.

Habitat Acquisition: Numerous habitats for threatened and endangered species, such as native prairie and shrub-steppe habitats and endangered turtle ponds and peregrine falcon nesting areas, have been identified and acquired or protected by conservation easements with assistance from Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grants.

Urban Wildlife Section: The Wildlife Diversity Division administers the agency's urban program, which is designed to provide a connection between urban/suburban dwellers of the state and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Historically, people who do not fish nor hunt have not had much interaction with the Department. Yet these people have a very strong interest in the wildlife around them. This program provides help and information to the great number of people who reside in cities, yet have a need for contact with the Department. The Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program helps them attract and view wildlife close to home.

Wildlife ViewingWatchable Wildlife: This is the newest effort of the Wildlife Diversity Division. There is a growing national effort to provide opportunities for people interested in viewing wildlife. Many states' tourism programs are dependent upon wildlife as an attraction. The Watchable Wildlife program, working with the Department of Transportation and other agencies and organizations, has installed a system of brown and white "binocular signs" to lead travelers to the sites featured in the Washington Wildlife Viewing Guide. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is presently developing showcase wildlife viewing opportunities on department lands. The Watchable Wildlife program is also working with a diverse array of local communities, natural resource and recreation agencies and other organizations to form a statewide network of fish and wildlife viewing sites and festivals that encourage habitat protection, and provide year-round recreation and tourism.