State Fish and Wildlife Agencies Are Working to Save Taxpayer Dollars by Keeping Wildlife Off the Endangered Species List

WASHINGTON DC – As we commemorate Endangered Species Day, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition proudly celebrate the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, which is providing critical funding to state agencies to prevent at-risk species from threatened and endangered species listing and to recover those from the brink of extinction.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, provides federal dollars to every state and territory to support the development and implementation of their unique State Wildlife Action Plans. Mandated by Congress, these 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 wildlife from becoming endangered.

“By emphasizing a proactive approach, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program supports states and territories in their efforts to conserve wildlife and habitats before they become more rare, risky and costly to protect,” said Mark Humpert, Teaming With Wildlife Director at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The 6,300-member Teaming With Wildlife Coalition, made up of nature-related organizations and businesses, strongly supports increased state, federal and private funding for fish and wildlife conservation. “Early, preventive conservation is the most cost-effective investment of taxpayer dollars and most efficient way to address the challenges facing all wildlife today.”
Projects supported by State and Tribal Wildlife Grants protect and restore important lands and waters; collect information on what kinds of wildlife are in trouble; 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.
State Success Stories in Preventing Endangered Species Listings and Recovering Listed Species Using State Wildlife Grant Funding:

• Lake Erie Water Snake: Found only on islands in the western Lake Erie waters of Ohio and Canada, this reptile was recovered and removed from the federal Endangered Species list in 2011. A State Wildlife Grant to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources funded research and snake surveys, permanent conservation easements and education to island residents to minimize human-induced mortality. The population has rebounded to nearly 8,000 water snakes today.

• Lesser Prairie Chicken: The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are both implementing projects with private landowners to keep this grassland bird off the list by restoring and improving habitat for chick survival.

• Fisher: The furry fisher had historically occurred throughout Washington, but state wildlife surveys had not recorded any since the 1990s. Using State Wildlife Grant funding, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reintroduced 90 fishers, which are now increasing in population on the Olympic Peninsula.

• Alabama Shad: Telemetry studies conducted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division to estimate population size revealed that federal endangered species listing was not warranted. The grant-funded project is also helping the agency improve fish passage and access to spawning grounds.

• New England Cottontail: Listing of this rabbit species has been delayed since 2006 due in part to an investment of State Wildlife Grant funding by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Surveys now show that the cottontail is more widespread and abundant than previously thought. The state is focused on habitat management to stabilize populations and save taxpayers by avoiding complicated reviews that could impact municipalities and private landowners. Additional states in the Northeast are investing State Wildlife Grant funds to ensure the needs of the species are being met range-wide.

“I think we should also commemorate ‘Keep Our Fish and Wildlife Common Day’,” added Humpert. “By taking action today to conserve all species of fish and wildlife and the places they live, we can help ensure they survive for future generations to enjoy.”

To learn more about the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program and State Wildlife Action Plans and to read more state success stories, go to www.teaming.com.

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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 www.teaming.com.