At its April meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) discussed a national effort to establish new funding that will ensure all wildlife is conserved for future generations. The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources is leading an effort to secure consistent national funding to conserve species that historically have not received dedicated financial support.
Across the country, there are thousands of non-game species, meaning those that are not hunted or fished, that lack sustainable, predictable and dedicated funding to support their conservation. Some of these species are facing serious declines nationwide. Without intervention, many could ultimately require protection under the Endangered Species Act, leading to more expensive recovery attempts.
“This is like the hole in a doughnut,” said Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski. “We have financial resources dedicated to game species and endangered species but not for the many species in the middle.”
While the current national system to fund conservation is highly effective, it is incomplete, and does not cover all of the growing needs of state fish and wildlife agencies. For decades, wildlife conservation in the U.S. has largely depended on this unique and highly successful system where hunters and anglers have willingly provided most of the funding for wildlife conservation work. In this system, state fish and wildlife agencies receive funding from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses as well as associated equipment, such as firearms, ammunition and sport-fishing equipment. While these funds are focused on species that are typically hunted or fished, a broad diversity of non-game and imperiled species also benefit from conservation actions implemented through this funding across the nation; however, there still remains a major gap in focused funding to sustain and support these fish and wildlife species that are so important to our national heritage and quality of life.
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources is a group of energy, business and conservation leaders tasked to develop recommendations on how to more equitably and comprehensively finance funding to help all wildlife and prevent more species from becoming imperiled or endangered. The 27-member panel examined how fish and wildlife conservation is funded in the United States and recommended that congress dedicate up to $1.3 billion annually in existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program.
“This is an historic opportunity to reflect on the success of our national funding system for the species that are hunted and fished while recognizing the critical need to step up and take care of so many other species like wading birds, song birds, frogs, turtles and small mammals that are not getting sufficient funding to secure their future,” said Chairman Yablonski. “This is an essential step towards conserving all species for future generations, and I hope all Floridians and all Americans will join together to support this noble cause.”
For more information about the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations visit FishWildlife.org/?section=blueribbonpanel.