Congress urged to increase spending to $700 million for endangered species conservation
WASHINGTON – Citing the global extinction crisis, more than 150 groups urged Congress today to dramatically increase the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s budget for endangered species conservation from $300 million to $704 million – an increase of more than $400 million over the fiscal year 2022 budget.
Today’s call comes a day after the Democratic-controlled Congress released its omnibus budget, which undermined President Biden’s budget request and kept status quo funding levels inadequate for our most vulnerable species. threatened. For example, the bill would increase funding for the recovery of the country’s 1,800 endangered species by just $3 million, while funding for the listing program would remain frozen at last year’s levels.
According to the Service’s own data, hundreds of endangered animals and plants receive less than $1,000 for their recovery in a typical year, with several hundred receiving no funding from the agency. The requested budget increase would ensure that each federally protected species receives a minimum of $50,000 per year to put them on the path to recovery.
“Congress needs to do more than the bare minimum if it’s serious about stopping extinction, and that starts with fully funding the Endangered Species Act,” said Stephanie Kurose, senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological. Diversity. “We have already lost too many unique animals and plants to extinction. During a global extinction crisis, it is heartbreaking that Congress continues to underfund this essential work.
Today’s letter notes that “the majority of extinctions are entirely preventable, so when we lose a species to extinction, it represents an unforgivable moral failure. The United States has one of the most powerful tools to end extinction — the Endangered Species Act — but decades of underfunding have prevented it from realizing its full potential.
“Red lights and alarms need to go out right now as the extinction crisis and biodiversity loss threaten life on this planet. Yet our nation’s most powerful conservation tool, the endangered species, lack of adequate funding,” said Mary Beth Beetham, legislative affairs director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Tragically, hundreds of species are on the brink of extinction simply because there is no there is not enough money to recover them. Next year’s appropriations must reflect the desperate situation of the crisis that we are facing.
The proposed funding package calls for $78.7 million for the Service’s registration program, nearly four times the wildlife agency’s current budget. The listing program has been chronically underfunded for decades and as a result over 400 animal and plant species have been waiting in most cases for over a decade to be considered for protections under the Wildlife Act. endangered species.
In 2021, the Service announced that it would remove 22 animals and one plant from the endangered species list because those species were extinct. These species will now join the list of 650 species in the United States that have likely gone extinct. Globally, a million more animal and plant species are at risk of becoming extinct over the next few decades.
Other groups signing on to today’s letter include the League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the Humane Society of the United States.