Wyoming Game and Fish Deputy Director John Kennedy testified to a Senate committee Thursday in Washington D.C. on why Congress should pass legislation to permanently help fund state wildlife agencies. Wyoming's U.S. Senator John Barrasso chairs the Committee on the Environment and Public Works that heard Kennedy's testimony and has been working for months to reform the Endangered Species Act to make it easier to de-list species.
In his testimony, Kennedy reminded lawmakers that Wyoming is home to 229 "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" or species on the state's threatened species list. He said the federal general fund used to help pay to manage them but now that funding has dried up and the state is keeping those species afloat mostly on its own dime.
"Every success story is directly related to the states and their partner's long-term commitments, steady efforts and stable funding," said Kennedy. "Inconsistent funding from year to year can compromise this work and lead to prolonged recovery times and even failure."
Kennedy testified that one thing he'd like to see Congress do is to enact the Recovering America's Wildlife Act to direct $1.3 billion to state wildlife agencies. Wildlife advocacy groups like the National Wildlife Federation agree. Kennedy said doing so would keep more species from getting listed on the Endangered Species List in the first place.
"Recovering America's Wildlife Act should save taxpayer dollars over time by precluding the need to list species under the ESA."
Kennedy also said, it's time to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 that relies on hunting licenses to pay for state wildlife management. It's often credited with halting the decimation of numerous species in that era. He said Congress needs to help pay to educate the next generation about hunting to keep this funding source viable.