March 29, 2021
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies was excited by last week’s announcement by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that the American bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009, from 417 known nesting pairs to 71,400 nesting pairs and an estimated 316,700 individuals today. Bald eagle populations are still growing strong thanks to dedicated resources and partnership efforts! This conservation success story is thanks in part to the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association collaborated on a report that highlights the program’s successes since its inception.
“This iconic species, once on the brink of extinction, is thriving today thanks largely to state-led conservation efforts and protection afforded to them by our federal partner,” said Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “The remarkable recovery of the bald eagle is one of many great conservation success stories in our nation.”
The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is the nation’s core program to prevent fish and wildlife from becoming endangered. This program is the only federal grant program available to states, territories, District of Columbia and tribes to conserve more than 12,000 species identified by states as species in greatest conservation need. States, tribes and their partners have used this funding 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.
Last week, the Association, National Wildlife Federation, The Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society hosted a virtual Fly-in to advocate for funding for the program in fiscal year 2022. Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK) are leading a Dear Colleague Letter in the U.S. House of Representatives to demonstrate support for the program. Last year the program received $72 million which was distributed to states, territories, the District of Columbia and tribes to conserve at-risk fish and wildlife.
The U.S. Congress created the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program in 2000 to address the longstanding need to conserve declining fish and wildlife. Since the inception of the program, over $1 billion has been appropriated to state, territorial and District of Columbia fish and wildlife agencies and tribes. The program led to the development of State Wildlife Action Plans, the blueprints for conserving our nation's fish and wildlife and preventing endangered species and is the principal source of funding for their implementation.
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.