The state of Hoosier is home to some of America’s most treasured wildlife. Today there are more than 150 species in Indiana that are at increased risk of extinction. extinction is forever; The time for action is when there are many animals. We must address the threats that drive extinction: from habitat loss and fragmentation to invasive species and degraded water quality.
What’s happening here in Indiana is part of a larger national trend that has seen more than a third of America’s wildlife endangered. Fortunately, we have a unique opportunity to save Indiana’s incredibly rich biodiversity through a bipartisan bill in Congress called the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). The bill seeks to fund proactive, collaborative, and locally-led efforts to help restore endangered fish, wildlife, and plant species. Indiana could receive more than $18 million annually. It’s a solution commensurate with the scale of the wildlife crisis.
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RAWA has significant bipartisan dynamics. The House of Representatives passed the bill bipartisanally in June. The bill has more than 30 co-sponsors in the Senate, including 16 Republicans. The Indiana congressional delegation could hold the key to RAWA’s fate, and we need our congressmen to help bring this vital funding back to Indiana.
Here’s why the bill makes sense for Indiana: We can build on the locally motivated and collaborative successes that are the hallmark of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). For decades, DNR has been innovating with the fees and taxes paid by Hoosier hunters and anglers to restore species such as wild turkey, bald eagle, river otter and white-tailed deer.
Today, there isn’t the same kind of funding to help endangered species as the Indiana bat. During the summer, an Indiana bat will eat up to 3,000 insects each night, including mosquitoes and many crop pests. Unfortunately, disturbance of the burrows on which Indiana bats depend has resulted in significant population declines, ultimately necessitating listing under the Endangered Species Act. The latest threat is white-nose syndrome, a fungus that has caused unprecedented mortality in many bat species and has now been spotted in 38 caves across the state. More than ever, Indiana bats need RAWA to fund conservation efforts such as: B. helping to recover remnant populations and researching innovative strategies to combat the disease.
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This is where this law comes into play. RAWA gives Indiana the financial resources it needs to prioritize proactive, local collaboration and innovation. This law will give Indiana the opportunity to save our full spectrum of wildlife now and avoid federal regulations that come with the federal listing. RAWA is the ultimate prevention.
Indiana’s annual $18 million would usher in a new era of conservation for quail, migratory waterfowl, loggerhead shrikes, blanding turtles, sea sturgeon, osprey, banded pygmy sunfish, sky warblers, green salamanders and timber rattlesnakes.
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This collaborative, non-regulatory, locally-driven approach to Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was intended to appeal to the common sense and conservatism of Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun. We hope that every member of the Indiana delegation will support her once she hits the ground.
After all, what would Indiana be without its wildlife? Outdoor recreation generates over $9.4 billion annually for Indiana’s economy, and that recreation depends on healthy wildlife. Our state has stunning public lands and waterways, but without our majestic wildlife, these amazing places will lose much of their magic.
Inaction is the ally of extinction. We call on Indiana leaders to seize this incredible opportunity to work together to save wildlife by helping pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. We need all Hoosiers to call Sen. Young and Sen. Braun and implore them to vote for wildlife by supporting the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
Dan Boritt is the executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation. Collin O’Mara is the President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.