Population Matters

U.S. endangered species expenses

U.S. endangered species expenses

The U.S. federal and state governments spent just more than $1.7 billion to conserve endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in fiscal year (FY) 2012 (from October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2012), according to an accounting recently published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). That’s up from $1.59 billion in FY 2011 and $1.45 billion in FY 2010.

Last year’s expenses included about $307 million to acquire conservation-critical habitats. The remaining outlay went to activities such as research, law enforcement, population censuses, transplanting animals or plants and any other activities performed by the federal or state governments “on behalf of threatened or endangered species” listed under the ESA. The vast majority of the spending came on the federal level; only $85.3 million came from the states. State spending, however, was up from $58.4 million in FY 2011. (Many states have their own endangered species laws and lists, expenses for which would not necessarily be counted in this report.)

A handful of gilled species received the lion’s share of ESA expenditures last year. Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), which are protected in 11 separate managed populations, received funding of more than $263 million. (The ESA has options to protect endangered species subspecies as a whole or as distinct population units for a given species.) Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) weren’t far behind that, at $240.7 million. That species is protected under nine separate populations.

The bird species that received the most funding was the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). This southeastern species received nearly $38 million in conservation funding. The mammal that required the most funding—$22.2 million—was the western population of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus). Earlier this week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which administers the ESA for marine species, announced that the eastern population of Steller sea lions would be removed from the ESA now that the animals have met the criteria set in a 2008 recovery plan.

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