State conservation funds lose out on millions thanks to federal ineptitude

Credit: BLM

According to the Government Accountability Office, states have lost out on millions in endangered species conservation funds after federal government agencies flubbed basic accounting procedures. The Endangered Species Act requires the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association to transfer the money collected from violators of certain wildlife laws into a special fund. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then grants that money to states for conservation work. Once the fund exceeds $500,000, the Treasury also makes deposits. But since the Trump administration has taken over, that has not happened. What’s the glitch? NOAA seems to have never transferred the money it collected, or even kept track of it. Oops, indeed: The fund, called the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, typically distributes about $50 million in grants a year to states to help them protect critical habitat of endangered wildlife. The investigation, pushed for by Oregon’s Democratic senator Ron Wyden, also found that the FWS and NOAA have been underusing federal incentives that encourage whistleblowers to come forward with information on wildlife trafficking. “The agencies responsible for combating wildlife trafficking and protecting endangered species are simply not doing enough,” says Wyden. Yeah, that much is clear.

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