Congressmen Don Young (AK), Todd Platts (PA), Mike Thompson (CA) and Ron Kind (WI) have been joined by 106 of their colleagues on a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. The letter is in support of the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, which is aimed at preventing wildlife in the U.S. from declining to the point of being endangered.

In the letter, Members urge the Subcommittee to provide the most robust funding possible for the Program, while also recognizing the fiscal constraints that the nation is under. The letter is also backed by the Teaming With Wildlife coalition, the nation’s largest and most diverse coalition assembled of more than 6,300 organizations, businesses and agencies in support of wildlife conservation funding

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is a principal source of federal funding for implementing congressionally required State Wildlife Action Plans in every state and territory. The Plans assess the health of each state’s wildlife and habitats, identify the problems they face and outline the actions needed to conserve them over the long term to prevent more species from being added to the federal endangered species list.

“In Alaska, hunting and fishing are not just hobbies – they are ways of life,” said Congressman Don Young (AK). “Having strong wildlife populations requires strong conservation programs not in just one state, but across the country. Fish and wildlife conservation is a shared responsibility between both the states and federal government. I support and will continue to support, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program because conservation is too important to not only my home state of Alaska, but the entire nation.”

Despite historical successes in bringing many wildlife species back from the brink of extinction, more than 12,000 species are at risk and potentially heading towards a future listing.

“It is our responsibility to be good stewards of this earth and prevent the ultimate extinction of wildlife, plants and fish,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (CA). “The sad truth is that once we lose a species we also lose recreational and economic opportunities that are associated with them. This is one important reason we need to maintain funding to help keep species off the endangered list.”

States, tribes and their partners have used funding from the Program that is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to combat invasive species, protect natural areas, restore habitat, conduct research, implement monitoring programs and facilitate partnerships with landowners to protect declining species and habitats on public and private lands. Priority for use of grant funds is placed on those species and habitats with the greatest conservation need. The Program leverages tens of millions of dollars in state and private funds each year.

“State hunting and fishing license dollars, federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and motorboat fuel taxes have provided the backbone for funding the state wildlife conservation programs since 1937. However, there has always been a gap in funding for the 90 percent of species that are neither hunted nor fished,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represents the country’s state fish and wildlife agencies. “The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program has provided state agencies with the resources they critically need to partially fill that gap.”

“These bold members of Congress are reaching across the aisle and working together to protect wildlife for current and future generations of Americans,” said Naomi Edelson, director of state and federal wildlife partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation. “Their work is supported by scores of hunters, anglers, hikers, bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts and businesses who understand preserving nature also enhances our economy, our environment and our way of life.”

“The State Wildlife Grants program is vital to wildlife management and conservation,” said Paul Krausman, president of The Wildlife Society. “Funding from this unique program among other things has supported important research on White Nose Syndrome’s effects on bats, and conservation actions central to the recovery of the Lake Erie Water Snake, which was removed from listing under the Endangered Species Act last year.”

A copy of the House Dear Colleague letter is available at http://www.teaming.com. A companion letter to the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee is currently in circulation with more than 30 Senators signed on to support the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program.

Teaming With Wildlife, a national coalition of 6,366 conservation organizations and nature-based businesses representing millions of birders, hunters, anglers, hikers and other conservationists—is working to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered by supporting increased state, federal and private funding for wildlife conservation. Found on the web at http://www.teaming.com.

photo: Anna Hunter

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