[4/9/18] Up To A Third Of The Nation’s Wildlife Species At Increased Risk Of Extinction

Posted in Feature

Up to a third of the nation’s wildlife species are at increased risk of extinction, according to a new report, “Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis.”

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

But David Ellenberger, Rocky Mountain regional outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation’s Colorado office, says there are paths to recovery.

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“…country that future generations will inherit.”

Ellenberger said the conservation work could be paid for through royalties from resource extraction on public lands, if Congress passes the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The measure would send $1.3 billion dollars to states to fund state Wildlife Action Plans already in place.

Joy Bannon, field director with the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, said investing up front to avoid an endangered species listing – which could bring federal regulations and limits on industry – makes good economic sense and produces a better outcome for wildlife.

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“…good for wildlife, and it’s good for taxpayers.”

Bannon said she also supports the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

State agencies have identified some 8,000 species in need of help, and the number petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act has increased by 1,000 percent in less than a decade.

Bruce Stein, the National Wildlife Federation’s chief scientist, said the legislation would provide the kind of investment needed to address the scope of the problem.

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“…amazing diversity of wildlife species that we steward here.”

Ellenberger said there are success stories to point to, like the reintroduction of the Canada lynx as proof that concerted efforts can make a difference. Two decades ago, after discovering that the lynx had vanished in the state, he said Colorado Parks and Wildlife went to work.

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“…broader spectrum and diversity of wildlife in the state.”

Both Ellenberger and Bannon said the issue is also important for states that depend on wildlife tourism and outdoor recreation.

According to a report last year from the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates more than $3 billion in state and local tax revenue in the Northwest. Nationwide, the industry contributes more than $880 billion a year to the country’s economy, and creates 7.6 million jobs. In Washington, it’s more than 200,000 jobs and $26 million dollars in consumer spending.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would redirect $1.3 billion dollars of existing revenue annually to state-led wildlife conservation efforts, allowing the states to more fully implement their State Wildlife Action Plans.