NWF, TWS and AFS Release Report on America's Wildlife Crisis

NWF, TWS and AFS Release Report on America's Wildlife Crisis

The National Wildlife Federation, The Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society released a report on March 29 that documents the growing crisis of fish and wildlife population declines. Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis spotlights the tremendous diversity of species within the United States while noting that up to one-third of U.S. species are at increased risk of extinction. The report also outlines how conservation efforts through State Wildlife Action Plans can improve these declines and encourages congressional action on legislation that would provide consistent funding for state wildlife conservation efforts.

“America’s wildlife are in crisis and now is the time for unprecedented on-the-ground collaboration,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates are all losing ground. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to prevent these species from vanishing from the earth. Recovering wildlife is a win-win-win: strengthening our economy, improving public health, and making communities more resilient.”

The Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis report outlines how more than 1,600 species currently receive protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. In addition, more than 150 U.S. species have already gone extinct and nearly 500 additional species have not been seen in recent decades and are regarded as possibly extinct. Specific classifications of animals are particularly challenged with approximately 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater fish species considered rare or imperiled and 70 percent of North America’s freshwater mussels imperiled or already extinct. Thirty percent of North America’s bat species have seen significant declines over the past two decades and amphibians are disappearing from their known habitats at a rate of 4 percent each year. The report also spotlights specific species in trouble including monarch butterflies that have dwindled by 90 percent over the past two decades.

“Wildlife in America need help. Species are increasingly at risk in all regions of the country and across all categories of wildlife,” said John McDonald, PhD, president of The Wildlife Society. “This decline is not inevitable. Wildlife professionals in every state have action plans ready to go to conserve all wildlife for future generations, but we need the funding to turn this situation around.”

The report also outlines how proactive conservation measures can reverse these declines and can help keep species off the endangered species list. Case studies in the report document how state fish and wildlife agencies and their partners are creating conservation successes when they collaborate and have adequate funding for conservation efforts. Working together through the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, partners are making a push to enact the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647). The legislation would implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources and dedicate $1.3 billion annually for state agencies to implement their wildlife action plans. The legislation, led by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), currently has 45 cosponsors and was discussed in a hearing held by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands in February.

April 13, 2018