Vulnerable wildlife populations across the nation will be protected and revitalized, thanks to approximately $7.4 million in grants from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service‘s Competitive State Wildlife Grant (C-SWG) Program.
The program supports projects led by state and commonwealth fish and wildlife agencies restoring and protecting imperiled wildlife and their habitat.
This year’s grantees include agencies in Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. They will implement 17 restoration and conservation projects that span 28 states and four commonwealths.
“State agencies are essential conservation partners for the Service and the administration, and through the C-SWG Program, we can empower local leaders as they work to restore nationally and locally important species,” said USFWS Director Aurelia Skipwith. “By helping these species recover now, we can potentially prevent them from being listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).”
The C-SWG Program employs a nationally competitive process to select and fund projects that conserve species listed in State Wildlife Action Plans. All 56 state, territorial and commonwealth wildlife agencies have such plans, which target state-identified Species of Greatest Conservation Need.
Supporting these projects can accelerate the recovery of endangered species and potentially prevent others from being listed. The Program also facilitates collaboration among state, federal, tribal and non-governmental fish and wildlife managers, creating nationwide conservation networks. Fortifying this spirit of collaboration are $2.8 million in non-federal funds provided by states and their partners.
Examples of this year’s projects include:
- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will target the wood turtle and ornate box turtle in a landscape-scale turtle conservation initiative: The wood turtle is a state-listed species in Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin and is undergoing review for potential listing by the Service under the ESA.
- Both turtles are threatened by habitat degradation and fragmentation, vehicle collisions, nest depredation and collection for the pet trade. The department can mitigate these threats by restoring nesting and foraging habitat, installing barriers to reduce road mortality, and identifying potential locations for new restoration efforts.
- The Missouri Department of Conservation will install wildlife tracking receivers in six states and in Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico: The Motus receivers provide new and accurate data on many tagged species of migratory birds including three of interest to the project’s partners: the golden-winged warbler, wood thrush and American kestrel.
- The data will help inform the Service’s status review of the golden-winged warbler for potential listing under the ESA. The project will also add to the strategic Motus network in the Midwest, allowing other researchers to collaborate and collect new information on a wide variety of birds, bats and insects identified in State Wildlife Action Plans.
- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will partner with California, Idaho and Oregon to collect data on the life history, distribution and abundance of six bumble bee species: Bumble bees are economically and ecologically significant pollinators, and conservationists have reported substantial declines in formerly common species.
- Project data will directly inform the Service’s status assessment for the western bumble bee and aid western states in restoring populations of at-risk bees before they decline to levels requiring ESA listing.
Photo of ornate box turtle courtesy of USFWS Midwest Region.