‘American Rescue Plan’ includes funding for wildlife

The American Rescue Plan, $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is providing funding to address wildlife disease issues.

The lengthy bill allocates a total of $105 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address wildlife trafficking, wildlife disease outbreaks and wildlife inspections.

The American Rescue Plan, enacted on March 11, provides the USFWS with $45 million in funding for research and extension activities to address wildlife disease outbreaks through early detection, rapid response and science-based management. The funding will also strengthen capacity for a national wildlife disease database and other wildlife health monitoring to enhance early detection of diseases that have the capacity to move to humans from other animals.

The current coronavirus pandemic is thought to have originated from wild animals, resulting in an increased focus on wildlife diseases and the dangers of wildlife trafficking over the past year.

The bill directs an additional $20 million toward efforts to address wildlife trafficking, including wildlife inspections, interdictions and investigations. It provides an additional $10 million for efforts devoted to implementing the Lacey Act, which enables USFWS to manage the importation of any wildlife species deemed “injurious to the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture or forestry, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources of the U.S.” That money will be used to help develop regulations for listing species as injurious on an emergency basis, if they transmit a pathogen deemed to pose a risk to human health. These provisions aim to track and restrict the movement of zoonotic disease in the United States and globally.

Recognizing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on facilities such as zoos and aquariums, the bill directs $30 million toward facilities experiencing lost revenues due to COVID-19, for the care of captive species listed under the Endangered Species Act, rescued and confiscated wildlife, and other federal trust species.

The Wildlife Society weighed in on stimulus funding in June, asking that the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act be included in a future economic recovery package.

Header Image: The ‘American Rescue Plan’ is providing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funding to address wildlife disease and trafficking issues, including completing inspections of imports. Credit: USFWS