September 23, 2019
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies encourages Congress to respond to the call to action in the State of the Birds Report released today by passing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 3742) to fund proactive fish and wildlife conservation. The State of the Birds Report highlights new science showing massive bird losses, with over 3 billion birds lost since 1970- more than a quarter of our birds in the U.S. and Canada. These dramatic bird losses demonstrate the urgent need for increased funding for their conservation. The report highlights that state fish and wildlife agencies have a critical role to play in recovering imperiled species of birds, fish and other wildlife and preventing species from becoming further endangered. But without increased funding, states and other partners are fighting an uphill battle. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a solution to this critical problem.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would dedicate $1.3 billion annually from the U.S. Treasury to State Fish and Wildlife Agencies to implement their State Wildlife Action Plans, and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters. State Wildlife Action Plans contain proactive solutions to conserve over 500 species of birds and other wildlife species of greatest conservation need. Without adequate dedicated funding, state wildlife agencies will not be able to fully implement their plans to prevent wildlife from becoming further threatened or endangered. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced this landmark legislation in the U.S. House in July, and it currently has over 120 bipartisan cosponsors.
“This 2019 State of the Birds Report highlights the critical role that state wildlife agencies can play in recovering America’s bird populations and provides recommendations for all partners to fully support these recovery efforts.” stated Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “These alarming wildlife species declines could be prevented by investing in our State Wildlife Action Plans, which contain prioritized actions for restoring and managing the most imperiled species within our states’ borders.”
Birds are big economic drivers in this country and provide countless outdoor recreation opportunities for game bird hunting and for bird watching. Forty-seven million bird watchers spent $7 billion in 2016 in this country, and 2.4 million game-bird hunters spent $2.3 billion. The 2019 State of the Birds Report highlights species that have encountered major population declines due to habitat loss and degradation, but also emphasizes that investing in conservation works: birds respond when we take sustainable conservation action. Waterfowl, for instance, are one of the great American conservation success stories led by state agencies with a variety of other committed partners on the ground.
“This new report provides further evidence that when you invest in proactive conservation, birds and other wildlife thrive,” said Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Executive Director Ron Regan. “Birds will be big winners under the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, and we hope Congress acts soon to pass this innovative funding model for all the species under the care of our state fish and wildlife agencies.”
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.