Protecting and preserving wildlife is in the interest of all Americans. Congress can take an important step forward with approval of the bipartisan Recovering America's Wildlife Act, which has been reintroduced with more than 50 sponsors in the U.S. House. Similar legislation also enjoys support from both parties in the Senate.
The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would redirect $1.395 billion annually from existing revenue in the U.S. Treasury fund to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program account. This would provide states with the resources needed to assist in the recovery of federally listed threatened and endangered species, and to restore the more than 12,000 species of "greatest conservation need" across the nation before federal listing is needed.
The legislation stands to help the S.C. Department of Natural Resources protect some of the state’s most vulnerable wildlife species.
“The reintroduction of this bill signifies the recognized importance of this legislation for species of greatest conservation need contained within states’ Wildlife Action Plans,” said SCDNR biologist Anna Huckabee Smith, coordinator for South Carolina’s State Wildlife Action Plan, which is mandatory under the law. Passage of RAWA would provide a solid funding source for research, surveys and on-the-ground habitat management to benefit these species in South Carolina and other states.”
Built on the premise that the best way to save America’s wildlife is through collaborative, proactive, on-the ground conversation, RAWA would help recover 12,000 species considered in need, including more than 1,600 species listed under the Endangered Species Act. An earlier version of RAWA was first introduced in 2017 based on recommendations from a panel of conservation and business leaders and was endorsed by the S.C. Natural Resources Board (the policy-making body for the SCDNR) in July 2018.
The bill complements the highly successful Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson), which have facilitated the state-led recovery of a range of large mammals, game birds and sportfish that faced potential extinction last century.
A 2018 report, Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis: Securing the Future of Our Fish and Wildlife, concluded that a third of America’s wildlife species are at increased risk of extinction. More than 150 U.S. species have already gone extinct and an additional 500 species have not been seen in recent decades and are regarded as possibly extinct.
There is urgency in this legislation. Conservation, hunting, fishing and outdoors organizations and leaders across the nation are in support. Hopefully, Republicans and Democrats can find agreement on protecting wildlife.