Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 4, 2015

Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

President’s Proposed Budget Falls Far Short of Funding Needed to Recover Endangered Species

Leaves Many Protected Species With Little or No Funding, Prolongs Delays in Protection

WASHINGTON— The Obama administration's proposed budget for 2016 includes only slight increases in overall funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency whose mission it is to stave off the wildlife extinction crisis in the United States. When adjusted for inflation, the proposed budget is essentially flat, and actually provides fewer dollars on a per-species basis than was budgeted at the start of the Obama administration. The administration, for example, requested approximately $22.8 million to list and protect highly imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act — a small increase from last year, but roughly the same amount of funding received in 2010, even though hundreds of species are waiting for decisions about their protection.

Eastern hellbender

The Laguna Beach liveforever, a threatened species, may not live much longer if it continues to receive no funding. Photo © Ron Vanderhoff, California Native Plant Society.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed budget for endangered species is less than the government spends on a single F-35c fighter jet,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As a nation, we have to put a higher priority on recovering endangered species. The meager increases proposed this week will make no difference to the hundreds of animals and plant species with little to no funding for their recovery. This is a travesty that needs to be fixed.”

Most of the more than 1,500 species protected under the Endangered Species Act receive far from adequate funding for recovery. The most recent expenditure report produced by the Fish and Wildlife Service covering 2013 shows that 68 percent of listed species received less than $100,000, nearly 60 percent received less than $50,000, and about 21 percent received less than $10,000 — including 48 species that received $1,000 or less.

In the past four years, more than 140 species have been added to the endangered species list, with hundreds still waiting for protection. As a result recovery dollars are spread ever thinner on a per-species basis, yet the Obama administration is only asking for a marginal increase. Progress toward recovery is directly correlated with the availability of federal resources and dollars for recovery, and perpetually inadequate funding is limiting species recovery.

“The reality is that dozens of the nation’s most vulnerable plant and animal species receive less than $1,000 a year — just $3 per day — for their recovery,” said Greenwald. “We need a much stronger commitment from this president if he truly wants to recover our nation's most endangered wildlife.”

The total budget proposal for the Fish and Wildlife Service, including wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, migratory birds and endangered species was approximately $1.6 billion, an approximately $135 million dollar increase from last year’s spending levels.  However, most of the funding increases will not benefit endangered species. Most endangered species funding is contained within two newly proposed funding accounts that merge spending for both at-risk and Endangered Species Act-listed species among other ecological restoration activities. Unfortunately, within this new framework, very little additional funding — potentially as little as $9 million — will reach currently listed species. In addition, the proposal reduces funding for the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program, and maintains funding for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund at reduced sequester levels.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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