WASHINGTON -- The Teaming With Wildlife Coalition and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies honored Senators Dick Durbin (IL) and Saxby Chambliss (GA), Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT) and Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA) for their outstanding leadership to safeguard imperiled species during the coalition's annual Teaming With Wildlife Fly-In in Washington, D.C. on March 5 and 6, 2013. The Fly-In is a critical Capitol Hill event for the 6,300+ member Teaming With Wildlife Coalition to advocate for dedicated, on-the-ground conservation funding in every state and territory to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.
"I am honored to have received this award and take it as a call to continue advancing efforts to protect our wildlife," DeLauro said. "The state and tribal wildlife grants I have strongly supported throughout my career help states preserve wildlife and prevent more species from becoming endangered. In Connecticut they have protected terns, herons, and egrets on our coastal islands; New England Cottontails and bunnies in Madison and Guilford; bats in North Branford; and even bald eagles in New Haven. Wildlife like these, and habitats like the Long Island Sound, are regional and national treasures. We must ensure their protection and preservation - not only for today, but for our children and our children's children."
The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program provides each state and territory with approximately $1 million annually to develop and implement their Congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans aimed at conserving fish and wildlife that are in decline and may be headed towards federal listing. According to the Government Accountability Office, once listed, the average cost of recovery of a single species can exceed $125 million.
"In South Dakota, most wildlife are found on working landscapes so additional federal endangered species listings can impact the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers that have been on the land for generations," said Jeff Vonk, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
However, since 2010, funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program has been cut by more than 30 percent. Coupled with the impacts of budget sequestration, further cuts to the program could force state fish and wildlife agencies into making tough decisions that could include reducing invasive species control efforts that cause billions of dollars in economic damage; providing less technical assistance to private landowners; decreasing surveillance on diseases such as White-nosed syndrome that is devastating bat populations; and reducing the number of projects to reintroduce at-risk species back into their native habitat.
In addition, further cuts to State and Tribal Wildlife Grants could lead to increased federal ESA listings and threaten the associated jobs and local economies tied the $45 billion wildlife recreation industry. A recent economic study by Southwick and Associates showed that the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program supports twice the number of jobs as those supported by road and bridge construction.
The 2013 recipients of the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition Member Achievement and State Wildlife Action Plan Partnership Awards exhibit the value and benefits of investment in the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program.
The Maryland Teaming With Wildlife Coalition http://teaming.com/state/maryland was recognized for its outstanding achievements in support of funding for wildlife diversity conservation with the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition Member Achievement Award. The Maryland coalition consistently participates in the Fly-in and works year-round to maintain effective relationships with its congressional delegation, resulting in strong support for annual appropriations for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. The Maryland Coalition also promotes Teaming With Wildlife to the state's Congress and at events leading to the recruitment of new organizations to the state coalition. Several coalition members also help implement Maryland's State Wildlife Action Plan.
"Maryland's Teaming with Wildlife Coalition greatly deserves this award for working together to safeguard Maryland's wildlife and the business community so dependent on wildlife viewing and other nature based tourism," said Naomi Edelson, Director of State and Federal Wildlife Partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation. "This coalition clearly recognizes the importance of the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to save wildlife and taxpayer dollars, and generate good jobs for Marylanders."
For their joint effort to recover populations of the Eastern Hellbender, a candidate species for federal listing, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the Tennessee Hellbender Recovery Partnership received the State Wildlife Action Plan Partnership Award. The state agency and its partners used State Wildlife Grants to develop a new environmental DNA (eDNA) protocol to detect the presence of hellbenders-saving a great deal of money and labor-as well as new sampling protocols for better understanding the impact of ranaviruses and chytrid. TWRA and the partnership also successfully produced the first captive-bred Eastern Hellbenders, which will be released into the wild. The partnership includes the Nashville Zoo, Lee University and Middle Tennessee State University.
"Without the dedicated funding of State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, Tennessee, and many other states for that matter, would have no funding mechanism to support the over 600 Tennessee species of greatest conservation need and hopefully preclude their possibility of listing under the Endangered Species Act," said Bill Reeves, Chief of Biodiversity and Climate Change for TWRA.
For more information about Teaming With Wildlife and State Wildlife Action Plans, go to www.teaming.com.
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Teaming With Wildlife, a national coalition of more than 6,300 conservation organizations and nature-based businesses-including state fish and wildlife agencies, wildlife biologists, hunters and anglers, birdwatchers, hikers and other conservationists-is working to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered by supporting increased state, federal and private funding for wildlife conservation. Found on the web at www.teaming.com or follow updates on Teaming with Wildlife's Facebook page.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies -the organization that represents North America's fish and wildlife agencies-promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a collective voice on important fish and wildlife issues. Found on the web at www.fishwildlife.org.