The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies applauds the intent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) announcement today to increase engagement with state fish and wildlife agencies in formulating petitions to list species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
As part of the Services’ proposal, petitioners would be required to consult with state fish and wildlife agencies prior to filing ESA petitions. AFWA agrees with the Services that this action is consistent with the intent of the Endangered Species Act—that listing decisions be based on the best available science.
The proposal acknowledges the states’ substantial experience, expertise and information relevant to the conservation of at-risk species. It also directs the Secretary of the Interior to account for the efforts being made by state agencies to protect species when considering listing petitions.
The Association also appreciates the Services’ recognition of the states’ jurisdiction and responsibility for managing and conserving freshwater fish, wildlife and plant species and respect for the states’ special conservation role and responsibilities. Pro-active conservation programs to keep imperiled species off the Endangered Species List are more successful and considerably less costly to American taxpayers than the “emergency room” approach that goes into effect under the ESA.
AFWA encourages Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and the Services to continue to work closely with their state agency partners in the critical work ahead to conserve the great diversity of our nation’s fish, wildlife and plant species.
To read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's official announcement, go to www.fws.gov.