Author: Cassie Gasaway
The Archery Trade Association supports the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (HR 3742), a bold legislative effort to prevent 12,000 at-risk wildlife species in the U.S. from becoming endangered, and possibly extinct.
State wildlife agencies manage most species with funding from license sales, federal excise taxes from the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson acts, and the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. Congress also gave states federal funds through the State Wildlife Grant Program the past few years to launch strategic efforts like State Wildlife Action Plans, which benefit at-risk wildlife and their habitats.
The plan identifies at-risk species like the bald eagle. Photo Credit: National Wildlife Federation
Those plans identified at-risk species based on the animal’s health, population strength and habitat conditions. State agencies identified over 12,000 species nationwide that are threatened by diseases, invasive species, habitat loss and extreme weather. Those species need proactive conservation action to remain off the Endangered Species List, which often triggers costly efforts to protect animals from extinction.
Unfortunately, those allocations weren’t enough to help at-risk species, so the U.S. House of Representatives reintroduced the RAWA bill on July 12 to provide $1.4 billion annually for wildlife recovery efforts in each state or territory’s wildlife action plan.
The RAWA bill was recommended by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, which formed in 2011 to identify pressing challenges and work collaboratively to solve them.
This bill will also protect recreational funding for archery. Photo Credit: National Wildlife Federation
Why Should ATA Members Care?
Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, said ATA considers nongame species crucial to the industry’s long-term health, even if they aren’t hunted.
“Most archers, outdoorsmen and ATA members have a broad love and respect for the outdoors, not just for deer,” Forster said. “We need healthy habitats and wildlife populations to complete the total outdoor experience. We should be concerned about healthy environments, whether our perspectives are ecological, aesthetic or recreational.”
Forster said the money could help alleviate conservation challenges that currently require FET funding. Additional state-agency allocated funds would free P-R and D-J dollars for more strategic use in fish and game management. He advocates for RAWA on behalf of ATA members while attending meetings, legislative hearings and other functions.
“State agencies currently lack funding for all their conservation and recreational needs,” Forster said. “They’re trying to be creative, blend efficiencies, and identify crossover benefits from the limited funds they have for managing at-risk species. The more money states get for nongame species, the more money they can use for conservation priorities that improve access and manage habitats that also benefit hunters.”
See what you can do in your area to help restore habitats. Photo Credit: National Wildlife Federation
Do your part, and get everyone involved. Forster encourages ATA members to learn more about the bill, and its effects and benefits. Staying involved in legislative efforts helps members engage and communicate with customers, and show agency staff and elected officials that conservation programs benefit the archery/bowhunting industry.
ATA members should learn more about their agency’s State Wildlife Action Plan by visiting its website and looking it up. The better you understand the bill and your state’s habitat initiatives, the more you can help others support programs that protect and restore habitat for at-risk species. Do your part locally, and then tell your state’s elected officials why you support the RAWA.
The National Wildlife Federation put it this way: “The magnitude of the solution must match the magnitude of the challenge.”
The bill currently awaits markup, in which congressional committees and subcommittees debate, amend and rewrite proposed legislation.