Tennessee wildlife head to take national spotlight

TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter also serves as the current president of the national Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. On Friday Carter will join other national government representatives to support a bill to provide billions in additional funding for wildlife conservation in the United States. (Photo courtesy TWRA)

Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, will take to the national stage Friday. Carter currently also serves as the President of the national Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). He will be one of several government representatives seeking to reintroduce the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), to help promote and enhance the nation’s conservation efforts.

Carter will join U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) in a Washington, D.C news conference Friday (July 12) at 9:30 a.m. The news conference will be streamed live on Red. Dingell’s Facebook page.

RAWA, first introduced in 2017 is the most significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation. The 2017 bill never made it out of committee.

RAWA is the number one legislative priority of the AFWA. The bill would dedicate roughly $1.4 billion to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program for proactive, voluntary efforts led by the states, territories and tribal nations to prevent vulnerable wildlife from becoming endangered. The money would come from a tax levied on revenue from oil and gas royalties.

Currently the majority of funding for wildlife protection and conservation across the country comes from hunters and fishermen - either through licenses sales or taxes levied on guns, ammunition and other sporting equipment (Read the NPR report). Non-hunters contribute only a small percentage towards wildlife conservation. For decades wildlife experts have agreed that there should be the means to better fund wildlife conservation efforts without placing an even greater burden on hunters and fishermen. However numerous such efforts have failed.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, a group of national business and conservation leaders co-chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris and former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, convened in 2015 to recommend a new mechanism to sustainably fund fish and wildlife conservation. In March, 2016, the Panel recommended creating this new funding stream to support implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans in every state, territory, and the District of Columbia.

According to the news release from TWRA, "Without a change in the way we finance fish and wildlife conservation, the list of federally threatened and endangered species is expected to grow from nearly 1,600 species today to thousands more in the future. The new dedicated funding created by the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered to ensure the long-term health of all fish and wildlife that provide countless hours of outdoor enjoyment for the nation’s citizens."

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