TWS contacts U.S. government leaders about shutdown

The Wildlife Society recently contacted President Trump and congressional leaders to emphasize the impacts of the recent partial government shutdown on its members and their critical work of science-based wildlife management and conservation. TWS also expressed concerns about the possibility of a future shutdown and encouraged government leaders to work together to ensure federal agencies remain operational.

“Many of our members are dedicated and passionate federal employees who were furloughed during the shutdown,” states the letter. “Many others are equally dedicated and passionate university researchers, state agency biologists, and private consultants that work in natural resource conservation — non-federal professionals that often rely on federal employees for key collaborations and partnerships. All of them, and the work they are trying to accomplish on behalf of wildlife conservation, are negatively impacted by a lapse in federal appropriations.”

The letter highlights the detrimental effects of the shutdown on wildlife conservation and management projects and the livelihoods of federal agency personnel and contractors who work in wildlife conservation. TWS’s letter spoke of the seasonal nature of wildlife research and management projects and emphasized that interruptions caused by the shutdown can affect the implementation of projects for months or years to come.

The lapse in funding forced national wildlife refuges and many other federal lands to close until Interior Department officials could put in place a mechanism for some refuges to partially reopen using previously appropriated funding and fee money.

After the partial shutdown lasted 35 days, the administration and Congressional leaders came to an agreement to reopen the agencies that were closed due to a lapse in appropriations. However, the agreement only funds the government until Feb. 15, setting the stage for another possible shutdown if congressional leaders cannot reach an agreement to complete fiscal year 2019 funding and address President Trump’s request for funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Header Image: While many wildlife refuges were closed during the shutdown, some, like Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, were able to pay some staff to return to work using carryover funding. © Michael Levine-Clark