If the last century of wildlife conservation has taught us anything, it is that wildlife management isn’t rocket science. When we provide wildlife managers with adequate resources and the authority to manage wildlife according to the best science, they can recover fish and wildlife populations. That’s how we brought big game like elk, mule deer, and pronghorn back from the brink of extinction to support Montana’s world-class hunting opportunities. It’s why Montana has blue ribbon fishing for abundant wild trout.
We know the same approach works with species that we don’t hunt or fish. From salamanders to prairie dogs to songbirds, the principles are the same: protecting habitat and managing threats according to the best science keeps wildlife abundant. Preventing at-risk species from declining to the brink of extinction has another benefit: it can avoid the need to put species on the federal Endangered Species list, and all the regulatory headaches that come with that law.
For the last 15+ years, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has implemented a best-in-the-nation program to conserve nongame species that has done exactly that. And, in fact, these efforts have helped keep species abundant and prevent endangered species listings for animals like the Arctic grayling, black-tailed prairie dog, and northern leopard frog.
Unfortunately, current funding to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered is just a drop in the bucket, and varies from year to year depending on the whims of Congress. For every success, there are dozens more species waiting in the wings.
To address this problem, Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) and Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) have introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647) to dramatically and permanently increase federal funding to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would dedicate $1.3 billion of existing federal revenue from oil and gas development on public lands and waters to the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program. This bold legislation is the direct of a recommendation from a Blue Ribbon Panel that included leaders from conservation groups, wildlife agencies, businesses, and the oil and gas industry. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks would see more than $29 million in new funding as a result of this program.
If conservationists, wildlife managers, the oil and gas industry, and outdoor businesses can find common ground, our political leaders should be able to take action to adopt their recommendations. We need our leaders to act now and pass dedicated funding to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. It’s good for wildlife and people.
Take Action: Ask Congress to Pass HR 4647!