Teaming with Wildlife is a national coalition of more than 6,000 groups working to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. Together, the coalition works to support increased funding for wildlife conservation and associated recreation and education in every state. The Teaming with Wildlife Coalition includes wildlife biologists, state wildlife agencies, conservationists, hunters, anglers, birdwatchers, businesses, and many others who support the goal of restoring and conserving our nation's wildlife.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, America's once numerous birds, mammals, and fish were largely depleted. In the 1930s, the situation started to improve with an infusion of funding for game and sport fish species. Wildlife areas were created, habitat was actively managed, and wildlife populations were augmented or restored with transplanted animals. Despite these successes, many other species continue to decline, as evidenced by the staggering fact that more than 1,000 species are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Our nation needed a program to conserve wildlife before they became endangered.
In 2000, at the urging of the Teaming with Wildlife Coalition, Congress and the President made an important decision to invest in wildlife and vital natural areas by creating the State Wildlife Grants Program. State Wildlife Grants provide federal money to every state for conservation aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. Since its inception, nearly $548 million in federal funding has been matched by state and private funds to benefit wildlife across all 50 states and six territories. Gale Norton, former Secretary of the Department of the Interior, recognized the State Wildlife Grants Program as "our nation's primary conservation program for keeping species healthy and off the list of threatened and endangered species." South Dakota has received nearly $5 million to date from this funding source, and the state's accomplishments are highlighted in this article. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recently completed a nationwide report called "State Wildlife Action Plans - From Vision to On-the-Ground Action,"
To make the best use of funds provided through the State Wildlife Grant Program, Congress charged each state and territory with developing a statewide wildlife action plan. These proactive plans will help conserve wildlife and vital natural areas before they become more rare and costly to protect. The Teaming with Wildlife Coalition is now building momentum to ensure state wildlife agencies and their conservation partners have the funding they need to fully implement their state wildlife action plans. The State Wildlife Grants Program is a great start but more resources will be needed to ensure a national approach to preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. Teaming with Wildlife is committed to securing this funding from federal, state, and private sources.