As a country, we should always do whatever we can to ensure that endangered wildlife species are protected so they will always be there for future generations to see.
It’s sobering to realize that, as this editorial is being written, animal and bird populations across the planet are declining at rates fast enough for people to observe the changes firsthand. About a third of America’s wildlife species are vulnerable to extinction because of habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, disease and severe weather.
In Kentucky through May, there were 49 species considered federally endangered or threatened, including rusty patched bumblebees, Kentucky cave shrimp, Indiana bats, oyster mussels and diamond darters. An additional 31 “petitioned species” such as the green salamander, karst snowfly and tricolored bat are endangered. There are also at least several hundred species that have been identified statewide as being vulnerable or understudied.
For decades, the primary mechanism for keeping species from reaching extinction has been the Endangered Species Act. While this act has served us well for nearly a half century and has brought some species from the brink, the time has come to expand on this act to help fund wildlife management and habitat restoration.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help do just that annually by allocating $1.3 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies and $100 million to tribes to fund wildlife management strategies and habitat restoration.
The legislation is scheduled to be revisited this week in a congressional committee. The bill proposes an allocation of 10 percent of the funds to be used toward the management and recovery of federally listed threatened and endangered species, and it proposes that states work to prevent at-risk wildlife species from being federally listed under the Endangered Species Act.
If this legislation is passed and signed into law, it could have very positive effects for states such as Kentucky.
Currently, Kentucky’s state wildlife and tribal grants hover at about $700,000 per year. With the new legislation, there could be between $13 million and $15 million set aside annually for state conservation work.
This huge jump in federal funds could go a long way toward aiding endangered animals in our state and also help fund wildlife management areas. The legislation before this committee seems like a no-brainer. We should be willing to spend reasonable amounts to help endangered species in our country and help restore the habitats where they thrive. We urge Congress to act quickly on this legislation and pass it into law so that none of these endangered species does, in fact, become extinct.