MISSOULA, Mont. (October 31, 2017) – The Boone and Crockett Club applauds the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on the release of their new state-by-state database of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN).
“Without data there is no science, and without science we would not be able to do what’s right for our wildlife,” said Ben B. Hollingsworth Jr., president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “This new database is an innovative information tool that helps state wildlife agencies and conservation organizations be more proactive and practical in their conservation efforts.”
The national database is the first step in following a mandate from Congress in 2000 for each state to develop a State Wildlife Action Plan in order to receive federal state wildlife grant dollars. The overall goal is to “keep common species common” and prevent species from needing even higher levels of attention such as being classified as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The first State Wildlife Action Plans were rolled out in 2005, and the congressionally mandated 10-year updates have been released over the past year by each state fish and wildlife agency. Each plan has a list of SGCN the state compiled, and the USGS database provides one-stop shopping where all state lists are combined so that conservationists and others with interest can see if a species is considered an SGCN in any or all states. This will facilitate cooperative multi-state conservation measures.
“This database encompasses hundreds of species of animals and plants,” commented Hollingsworth. “Of special interest to sportsmen are the big game species that do show up on some state lists. Being on the list might look like a red flag that a species is in trouble, but that is not necessarily the case. The actual causes for listing vary and each case will be taken into consideration for future actions. The good news is this database, more often than not, reflects successful conservation.”
Several big game species are gradually expanding their ranges naturally into other states, like grizzly and black bears and mountain lions, so their numbers are currently low in those newly colonized states and warrant listing as a state’s SGCN. Others like elk and bighorn sheep have and are being reintroduced to some of their historical ranges in states with suitable habitat. These new populations are on state lists so they receive the attention they need. In some states, species like bison, moose and pronghorn are being affected by habitat loss, which requires specific management strategies, and in the case of moose, a warming climate is also a factor that needs to be addressed.
The State Wildlife Action Plans will next identify and implement strategic conservation and management opportunities for wildlife and their habitats. The focus will be on these species of need by applying science-informed measures to conserve, restore, and manage important lands and waters. These measures include addressing invasive plant species that degrade critical habitat and old unproductive habitats, as well as other steps to ensure these species get the helping hand they need.
“The situation was dire for many big game species in 1887 when Theodore Roosevelt formed the Boone and Crockett Club,” Hollingsworth continued. “Every single species of big game that we sustainably hunt today was so depleted from unregulated take that had the ESA been in place, every one would have surely been listed as threatened or endangered. We avoided a wildlife disaster by changing the way we used and managed big game without resorting to ESA-like protections. Today, the SGCN represents another valuable step in our ever-evolving conservation success story.”
The USGS list includes all species of wildlife, game and non-game mammals and birds, reptiles, fish, mollusks, insects and plants. The State Wildlife Action Plans will be developed in collaboration with federal, state and private partners and with participation from the public and layout a vision for sustaining fish and wildlife for future generations.
Hollingsworth concluded, “This new database is both what wildlife recovery looks like today and a roadmap for work to be done so we can avoid any further ESA listings. Our founder, Theodore Roosevelt, was a stickler for using the best science to direct decisions on natural resources, especially wildlife. He would be proud to know this science-focused approach, known as the ‘Roosevelt doctrine’ is still alive and well.”
About the Boone and Crockett Club
Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club is the oldest conservation organization in North America and helped to establish the principles of wildlife and habitat conservation, hunter ethics, as well as many of the institutions, experts agencies, science and funding mechanisms for conservation. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. For details, visit www.boone-crockett.org