Urban Bird Foundation joined Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife in urging Congress to take action on behalf of our combined millions of members and supporters, and request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received increased critical funding desperately needed for endangered species conservation and recovery.
As highlighted in the letter submitted to the House Committee on Appropriations, the world is in the midst of a staggering wildlife extinction crisis unlike anything humans have ever experienced before and on a scale and pace unseen in millions of years. Wildlife populations around the world are crashing at alarming rates and with distressing frequency. In May 2019 hundreds of scientists reviewing over 15,000 papers and reports released a groundbreaking assessment warning that 1 million animals and plant species face extinction in the next few decades due to the threats from habitat loss, climate change and other human activities. Following that report, the worst fire in decades ravaged the Amazon rainforest—home to 10 percent of Earth’s animal species—taking a massive toll on wildlife and altering entire ecosystems, while wildfires at the start of 2020 razed over 10 million acres in Australia, killing a billion individual animals.
Many once-common species are now rare. In North America alone, almost two-thirds of bird species have declined, some precipitously, in recent decades. The eastern monarch butterfly population, which numbered over a billion, crashed to just 30 million in 2013, while the western population of monarch butterfly has crashed by 99 percent. Scientists are warning of an insect apocalypse as populations of once-common pollinators and other insects plummet around the world. In the continental United States more than 10 species have been declared extinct since 2010, including two butterflies, two beetles, two freshwater snails, a snake, a crustacean, a pocket gopher and the eastern puma. Numerous other species haven’t been detected in decades and will likely be declared extinct within the coming years.
Fortunately, the United States has the strongest wildlife conservation law in place to help combat the global extinction crisis, the Endangered Species Act. Despite the protections the Act provides, decades of underfunding have prevented it from realizing its full potential. Too many species sit in limbo at the edge of extinction, or are being lost altogether, when we can ensure they remain part of our rich natural heritage. This funding package will ensure every listed species receives a minimum of $50,000 per year for recovery and will allow the Endangered Species Act to be implemented in the way Congress intended when it dedicated our country to protecting the species and the habitats that need it most. The scientific community agrees that significantly more funding is needed – to date more than 1,900 scientists have signed a letter originally published in the prestigious journal Science in November 2019, entitled “Solve the biodiversity crisis with funding” calling on Congress to fully fund conservation programs that protect biodiversity from severe and growing threats.