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Saving America's Wildlife Earns Bipartisan Support


Thursday, July 22, 2021   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Wildlife experts say about one third of all wildlife species in the U.S. are in decline or vulnerable - which makes revived legislation in Congress critical to promote intervention and prevent extinction.

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act was introduced in Congress this week by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sen Martin Heinrich - D-N.M. - and Sen. Roy Blunt - R-Mo.

Heinrich spent part of his youth living in Missouri and said a permanent funding stream is what's needed to make a positive impact.

"Whether you grow up in New Mexico or you grow up in Missouri," said Heinrich, "you remember that first fish you ever catch, you remember the monarch butterflies in your backyard and all of these species that are just not as common as they used to be."

If passed, the conservation work could be paid for through royalties from resource extraction on public lands. Heinrich noted that during the pandemic, more Americans visited the outdoors than ever before.

Ken Lucero is tribal administrator for the Zia Pueblo in north-central New Mexico. He said both big game and small game have been essential to the tribe's survival, providing food, clothing and other needs.

"But, unfortunately, we have seen a significant decrease in both game species and biodiversity on our lands and the neighboring communities," said Lucero. "We understand that unless we address the dwindling populations, there will not be any wildlife for our future generations."

The legislation would give the state's Department of Game and Fish $28 million annually to help conserve 235 species in need. Jesse Duebel is the executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and said it also would benefit the state's outdoor recreation industry.

"The more wildlife, and the more species of wildlife that a visitor is likely to see," said Duebel, "the more likely that visitor is going to come to New Mexico and spend their money in our state."

National Wildlife Federation research shows more than 150 species already are extinct, and 500 more haven't been sighted in decades.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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