Did you know that fully one-third of wildlife and fish species in the U.S. face “increased risk of extinction”? While the number of species listed as “endangered” or “threatened” by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has steadily grown, funding has not kept pace to adequately protect all species on the list or ensure their numbers are high enough to remain viable. Protecting species before they need to be listed is a more efficient strategy, according to many experts.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act aims to do just that. The House bill, introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and then-Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), passed 231-190 in June. Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have introduced a version in the Senate, where it has 16 Republican co-sponsors.
The bill would provide nearly $1.4 billion annually to protect vulnerable wildlife and aid their recovery. This includes species classified as endangered or threatened, as well as those that are at varying degrees of risk. Resources would be directed toward states, territories and tribal nations to enact localized, jurisdiction-specific plans. This would fund and empower bodies that understand local contexts and have the trust of their communities. And help avoid the cumbersome processes that come with federal intervention.