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Report Finds U.S. Wildlife in Crisis, Says Recovery Possible

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game identifies sockeye as a species in need of conservation. (MartialArtsNomad.com/Flickr)
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game identifies sockeye as a species in need of conservation. (MartialArtsNomad.com/Flickr)
March 30, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – As many as a third of species in the United States are on the decline and face possible extinction, according to a new report. But conservation groups say there are paths to recovery.

The report "Reversing America's Wildlife Crisis" contains troubling news for species of all kinds. It says more than 150 species have already gone extinct and about 40 percent of freshwater fish species are imperiled.

But Jesse Trushenski, president-elect with the American Fisheries Society, who works in Idaho, says extinction is not a foregone conclusion. She says state efforts to save game and non-game animals are related.

"Conservation efforts that are specifically focused on game species often help non-game species that are in the same environment and vice versa,” she says. “So, work that's done to improve habitat, for example. If habitat is better, that habitat is better for all of the organisms that utilize it."

Trushenski says Idaho's efforts to protect trout and salmon species are examples that provide blueprints for the recovery of other species. She adds the Pacific lamprey is one example of a fish species in need of conservation efforts in Idaho.

The report was released jointly by the National Wildlife, American Fisheries Society, and The Wildlife Society.

The groups behind the report cite bipartisan legislation in Congress that could help. The "Recovering America's Wildlife Act" would fund current, state Wildlife Action Plans, which help manage species before they're on the brink of extinction.

The bill would dedicate $1.3 billion a year for wildlife conservation. At the National Wildlife Federation, chief scientist and associate vice-president Bruce Stein says it could mean the country increases the scale of its conservation investments to match the scope of the problem.

"It would allow us to reverse the wildlife crisis and fully implement these state Wildlife Action Plans,” he says. “It's an opportunity to make sure that we safeguard not just our conservation legacy, but this amazing diversity of wildlife species that we steward here."

Funding would come from an existing tax paid by energy and resource industries for the right to develop on federal lands, which generates between $6 and $20 billion annually. It would raise money for Idaho's conservation efforts from $570,000 to nearly $19 million.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game identifies more than 300 species of greatest conservation need in its Wildlife Action Plan.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID