The voting membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies passed four resolutions during its Business Meeting held on September 21, 2022.
SUPPORTING STATE, PROVINCIAL, TERRITORIAL, AND ASSOCIATION LEADERSHIP FOR A “ONE HEALTH” APPROACH TO THE WELL-BEING OF PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE
WHEREAS, people, wildlife, and their shared ecosystems face a multitude of cross-cutting and urgent challenges including novel zoonotic pathogens, habitat loss, and climate change; and
WHEREAS, recognition of the need for a unified approach by fish and wildlife conservation, public health, and environmental protection professionals has sparked a movement toward interdisciplinary collaboration to meet these challenges and promote the central role of nature in securing the physical, mental, and social well-being of individuals and communities; and
WHEREAS, this collaborative approach is carried out with varying emphases by individual sectors and stakeholders at the local, regional, national, and global levels but is commonly known as One Health; and
WHEREAS, an essential goal of One Health is the achievement of optimal health outcomes among people, wildlife, domesticated animals, and plants, and success will be fostered by the active cultivation of closer professional interaction and collaboration between disciplines and governmental, non-governmental, and commercial sectors; and
WHEREAS, One Health is crucial to building capacity for surveillance of novel and re-emerging pathogens, when over 60 percent of known infectious diseases in people can be spread by animals and up to 75 percent of new or emerging pathogens come from animals; and
WHEREAS, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Association) has previously recognized the essential roles and capacities of state, federal, tribal, provincial, territorial, and regional fish and wildlife agencies in carrying out fish and wildlife disease surveillance; and
WHEREAS, principles of One Health include equity between sectors and disciplines, inclusion and empowerment of underserved communities, sustainably fulfilling human needs including food, water, shelter, and energy while safeguarding biological diversity and advancing animal health, and substantiating plans and policies with modern and traditional forms of knowledge in tandem with a broad spectrum of perspectives; and
WHEREAS, the Association commissioned a white paper on the North American and global evolution of One Health principles and implementation, and on the Association’s current and potential roles in a conservation field that is quickly evolving in concert with these principles (“The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the One Health Approach: Providing the Foundation for a Leadership Role”, hereinafter “White Paper”);
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Association endorses and supports the White Paper’s findings and conclusions, and that the Association shall further deepen its fish and wildlife health capacity; provide guidance to its member agencies in developing One Health frameworks; collaborate with state, provincial, territorial, tribal, federal, private, and international entities in sharing information across sectors and disciplines; continually evaluate its policy priorities in light of One Health principles; and encourage application of these principles.
Resolution submitted by the Executive Committee.
URGING CORRECTIVE ACTION TO ADDRESS FEDERAL EXCISE TAX SLIPPAGE FOR IMPORTED ARCHERY AND SPORTFISHING EQUIPMENT
WHEREAS, manufacturers of archery and sportfishing equipment, through the collection of excise taxes under the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program, contribute significantly to the American System of Conservation Funding; and
WHEREAS, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (Association) relationships with trade associations including the Archery Trade Association (ATA) and American Sportfishing Association (ASA) reinforce the constructive relationship between excise-taxed industries, state fish and wildlife agencies whose primary funding comes from these excise taxes, and participants in outdoor recreation; and
WHEREAS, the ATA and ASA have raised awareness that online marketplaces facilitate the sale of archery and sportfishing equipment into the United States by overseas manufacturers, and through these transactions the traditional mechanism for excise tax collection (i.e., the U.S.-based manufacturer or importer) may be avoided; and
WHEREAS, a report by Southwick Associates estimated that, through these transactions, the total unpaid excise taxes on sportfishing and archery equipment expected due but not paid in 2021 was $13.04 million for sportfishing equipment and $4.2 million for archery equipment; and
WHEREAS, state fish and wildlife agencies, the sportfishing and archery industries, and natural resource conservation are harmed by losing this essential revenue;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recognizes the difficult problem of lost revenue from online imports of archery and sportfishing equipment and strongly urges Congress to take corrective action in support of domestic taxpaying industries.
Resolution submitted by the Trust Funds Committee.
IN SUPPORT OF ENHANCING REGULATORY, COLLABORATIVE, AND STRATEGIC CAPACITY TO COMBAT THE ILLEGAL TRADE IN TURTLES
WHEREAS, turtles are one of the most vulnerable vertebrate groups worldwide, and unsustainable take is a significant threat to turtle species; and
WHEREAS, delayed maturation, small clutch sizes, low embryonic and juvenile survival rates, and increased vulnerability of nesting females can predispose turtle populations to rapid declines following loss of adults; and
WHEREAS, natural resource management agencies are making considerable efforts to reverse turtle population declines by collaboratively developing model legislative and regulatory language, convening workshops and conferences designed to assess regulatory, capacity, and funding needs, population statuses and limiting factors, developing confiscation and repatriation plans, and taking law enforcement actions; and
WHEREAS, these efforts are sustained by leadership support and coordination between biological, law enforcement, and legal and policy personnel, including through directed training, skills development, and information-sharing; and
WHEREAS, agencies can benefit from consulting experts on aspects of prosecutions such as species identification, handling protocols, and managing evidence;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Association) recognizes that the illegal trade in turtles is a significant threat to native turtle species that natural resource management agencies are entrusted to manage and conserve; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Association hereby urges agencies to identify enforcement of laws and regulations for the conservation of native turtles as an important law enforcement priority, to communicate the urgency of this priority to prosecutors, judges, and other arms of law enforcement, and to engage with federal partners to make use of enforcement tools available including the Lacey Act, other federal statutes, and the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that model language and reports on regional needs reviewed by the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Committee, Law Enforcement Committee, and Legal Committee emphasize the clarification of agency functions as applied to conserving turtles, including:
- Declarative statement of mission that expressly extends to conserving wild reptiles and amphibians including native turtles;
- Definition(s) of resources under agency jurisdiction that comprehensively cover all reptiles and amphibians, including every part of any individual species, whether or not bred, hatched, or born in captivity, and including any part, product, egg, or offspring thereof;
- Plenary authority to regulate the take, possession, scientific collection, commercial use, and transportation of native reptiles and amphibians, including through the establishment of take prohibitions or limits, harvest seasons, size limits, license and permit requirements, and areas of harvest; and
- Direct authorization for law enforcement to cooperate with agencies in other states and cross-deputize with federal law enforcement agencies;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Association supports efforts to ensure the continued survival of North America’s native turtles by raising public and professional awareness of the threat of illegal trade, and by promoting statutory and regulatory solutions, encouraging agency nongame funding and capacity enhancements, and recommending increased interstate and regional information-sharing.
Resolution jointly submitted by the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Committee, Law Enforcement Committee, and Legal Committee.
APPRECIATION TO THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT FOR
a Successful 112th Annual Meeting
WHEREAS, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies convened its 112th Annual Meeting on September 18-21, 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas, a city whose attractions include the Fort Worth Zoo and Botanic Gardens and nearby recreational opportunities like paddling on the Brazos River; and
WHEREAS, the 112th Annual Meeting offers a venue for the Association’s committees and partnerships to tend to its foremost priorities including permanent funding for species of greatest conservation need through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) and emerging priorities like a One Health approach to conservation communications, partnerships, and governance; and
WHEREAS, since 1963, under state laws dating back to 1861, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has ensured that Texas residents enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities throughout one of the most biodiverse States; and
WHEREAS, the Plenary Session of the 112th Annual Meeting (“One Health: A Prescription for the Relevancy of Wildlife Conservation”) announced the Association’s commitment to serving as a leader and convenor in the essential mission of enhancing human, animal, and ecological well-being through interdisciplinary cooperation and attentiveness to the needs of all constituents; and
WHEREAS, Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD and 2022’s recipient of the Association’s Seth Gordon Award for his lifetime of achievement in conserving wildlife in the public trust, has built an impactful record over three decades of service in wildlife conservation and a 15-year tenure leading TPWD, and contributed singularly to the advancement of RAWA across a half-decade of tireless advocacy from the conservation community;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Association offers its deep gratitude to TPWD for hosting its Annual Meeting, to Director Smith on the eve of his hard-earned retirement, and to all Association members for a successful and productive 2022 Meeting.
Adopted by the Association on September 21, 2022 in Fort Worth, TX.