WASHINGTON— The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife will hold a legislative hearing Thursday to review more than a dozen conservation bills, which would provide millions of dollars in long-overdue funding for protecting and recovering critically endangered species and ecosystems.
“The global extinction crisis is ravaging life on earth, so it’s heartening to see Congress begin to address the devastating decline of wildlife,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These bills offer real hope that help is finally on the way for some of our most neglected and endangered animals and plants.”
The Extinction Prevention Act (H.R. 3396), for example, would create four grant programs. Each would provide $5 million per year to fund crucial conservation work for some of the most critically imperiled species in the United States: North American butterflies, freshwater mussels, desert fish and Hawaiian plants.
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 species. Roughly 1 in 4 species receives less than $10,000 a year toward recovery.
H.R. 1983, the Monarch Action, Recovery and Conservation of Habitat Act (MONARCH Act) would provide $125 million in emergency funds over five years to save the western population of monarch butterflies from extinction. This past winter, only 1,914 monarchs were recorded overwintering on the California coast — the lowest number ever recorded.
“This is exactly the kind of bold legislation needed for the U.S. to reclaim its position as a world leader on conservation,” said Kurose. “We’re in a race against the clock to save life on earth, so we need Congress to step up to this immense challenge now more than ever. Passing these bills would be a great start.”
Both the Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Act (H.R. 1569) and the Global Amphibian Protection Act (H.R. 2026) would establish grant programs funded at $5 million each for on-the-ground conservation actions to protect critically endangered animals and amphibians around the world.
Thursday’s hearing will consider 11 other bills, including the following legislation that would also benefit imperiled wildlife:
- H.R. 2773: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), which would provide $1.3 billion for state fish and game agencies to conserve fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need. At least 15% of this funding would be used towards recovering federally listed threatened and endangered species;
- H.R. 2325: Bear Protection Act, which would prohibit the import, export and interstate trade of bear parts and products;
- H.R. 3135: Captive Primate Safety Act, which would prohibit private ownership and interstate commerce of monkeys, apes and other primates.