Habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, disease and severe weather have all taken a severe toll on birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies and bees. All types of wildlife are declining – in many cases dramatically. But help might be on the way in the form of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act that aims to keep more wildlife from becoming endangered, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Bipartisan — believe it or not — federal legislation would provide dedicated funding to Wisconsin and other states to invest in on-the-ground conservation for wildlife species of the greatest conservation need. This would include over 12,000 fish and wildlife species across America – and over 400 species in Wisconsin – from becoming threatened, endangered or extinct.

Better yet, no new or increased taxes would be needed; $1.3 billion annually in existing federal funding would go to the states to carry out their wildlife action plans, and tribal nations would receive $97 million annually.

Here is how Wisconsin could benefit from the RAWA, if passed by Congress:

Our state would get $18 million annually in federal funds compared to $1 million now. That money would directly benefit over 400 at-risk wildlife species covered in Wisconsin’s wildlife action plan.

The money will not only benefit wildlife, but people too. Here’s how: Healthy wildlife habitats containing food, water, shelter and space to live will help species successfully carry out their life cycles with minimum stress and mortality. Healthy habitats will also be a boon to the 95% of our residents who participate in some form of outdoor recreation. Research has shown that it takes only about 120 minutes in nature a week to increase the health and wellbeing of families and others.

Healthy wildlife and their habitats benefit local economies in our state as well. Outdoor recreation is the No. 1 reported marketable reason for visiting Wisconsin, generating $17.9 billion in consumer spending and 168,000 jobs each year.

The RAWA is a win-win for both wildlife and people and will save us all money in the long run. Proactive wildlife conservation saves money by addressing threats before expensive emergency actions are needed. Unless our nation invests in proactive, on-the-ground, collaborative conservation, we run the risk of losing thousands of species and our wildlife heritage to preventable challenges.

The RAWA isn’t a done deal, but you can help make it so by contacting your senators and representatives and encourage them to support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 2021 (HR 2773; S 2372) bills.

The Great Lakes governors in an Oct. 15, 2019 letter to Congress said this in support of the RAWA: “This legislation provides a solution for one of America’s greatest threats – the decline of our fish and wildlife and their natural habitats, and what this means for people and our economy … We fully support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and urge Congress to move quickly toward its passage.”

For more information, look at this short YouTube video at: youtu.be/dmTtiy-PqBw.

The private Nature Education Center in Fifield operated by Tom and Mary Lou Nicholls is open seasonally by appointment only.