Faculty and alumni from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) initiated a new wildlife conservation license plate design which was recently unveiled by the North Carolina. Wildlife Resources Commission. The new plate design features a drawing of a Pine Barrens treefrog, as well as the agency’s wildlife logo.
In 2014, an art competition was hosted to find a new featured design. UNCG biology lecturer Ann Somers and Professor Emeritus Catherine Matthews guided two UNCG students, Rachel Carico-Blair and Amy Gonsalves, now alumni, in hosting the competition which served as their leadership project for an honors class. Over 35 entries were received in response. Five designs were selected as semifinalists, and the overall winner was chosen by members of the Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee (NWAC). The committee advises the Wildlife Resources Commission regarding the conservation of nongame wildlife species and their habitats.
When the winning license plate design was released, Somers was recognized for 22 years of service to the NWAC as a now-former member.
“She was crucial to many of the ‘out of the box’ concepts that reached implementation over the last few years,” said Shannon Deaton, Chief of the Commissions’ Habitat Conservation Division. During the recognition, Deaton also mentioned how Somers accompanied herself and her students to congressional offices to discuss the value of federal funding for wildlife diversity and the NC Wildlife Action Plan. “Basically, she put her money where her mouth was. She didn’t just talk about it, she did things to put conservation in action. The agency is grateful for her professional candor and tireless efforts to take conservation to the next step without boundaries.”
The Wildlife Diversity Program is responsible for the conservation, protection and management of North Carolina’s rare native fauna and over 700 species of non-game animals. Recent and/or ongoing projects conducted by biologists include conservation of sea turtle nests along the Outer Banks, and the management of colonies of bats in the Western North Carolina mountains. In addition to license plate sales, the program is supported mainly by contributions of state income tax refunds (known as the N.C. State Income Tax Check-off), as well as federal and other grants.
The Pine Barrens treefrog featured on the new license plate design is, according to the Commission, “a medium-sized tree frog with a white-bordered lavender stripe down each side of its body. The frog is found in the pine forests and sandhills of south-central North Carolina. Biologists think populations are declining in the state because of habitat destruction and degradation. In 2013, the Pine Barrens treefrog and the marbled salamander were designated the official state amphibians.”
The plate is available for purchase through the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles and costs $30, with $20 of each plate going to the agency’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. The new design is replacing what has been the symbol of the fund since 1983, the year it was first established by the North Carolina General Assembly—the cardinal and dogwood logo. The fund supports projects and programs conducted by the Wildlife Diversity Program.