Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 4, 2019


Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

Flawed Wildlife Bill OK’d by House Natural Resources Committee

‘Recovering America’s Wildlife Act’ Underfunds States With Most Imperiled Species, Gives Windfall to Alaska

WASHINGTON— The House Natural Resources Committee today voted to approve Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-Mich.) Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would provide $1.4 billion annually to state fish and game agencies with the goal of conserving “species of greatest conservation need.”

Under the legislation, wildlife currently listed under the Endangered Species Act receive only 15% of the funding, while non-listed wildlife get 85%. Worse, the legislation uses an antiquated funding formula that primarily relies on the size of a state rather than need. Alaska would receive nearly three times more money than Hawaii, despite the fact that Hawaii has 50 times more endangered species.

A 2016 study found that Congress only provides approximately 3.5% of the funding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientists estimate is needed to recover endangered species. In any given year, roughly 1 in 4 species receives less than $10,000 a year toward recovery.

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is well intentioned but deeply flawed,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If we’re serious about addressing the extinction crisis, funding needs to go to the states with the most imperiled species and the most complex conservation challenges. Otherwise the Act will be little more than a boondoggle, while our most imperiled species continue slipping toward extinction.”

The legislation fails to address the conservation of plants, which represent more than half of all species listed under the Endangered Species Act and more than half of all other imperiled species in the United States. It does not contain any meaningful accountability to guarantee that states spend the money wisely or focus on the most at-risk species.

“There are already 1,000 plant species threatened with extinction, yet the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act pretends we don’t need to address this conservation challenge,” said Hartl. “Without accountability, rational planning, or a requirement to address the full web of life, this legislation will fail to protect our natural heritage.”

Similar legislation was introduced in 2017. The 2017 bill provided zero funds for wildlife that are currently protected by the Endangered Species Act and used royalties from oil and gas extraction as the mechanism to fund wildlife conservation — effectively making fossil fuel extraction a precondition for wildlife conservation. The 2017 bill was even less rational in terms of how funding was allocated among the states, and also had no accountability mechanism.

Map of endangered species by state, by Curt Bradley / Center for Biological Diversity. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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