U.S. funding for international sea turtle conservation is slated for cuts. In its federal budget request for next year, the Bush Administration has proposed budget cuts for international sea turtle conservation efforts in the new Marine Turtle Conservation Act (MTCA) and similar legislation for other imperiled species. Strong public support is needed now to prevent a very significant drop in next year's budget for these international programs for endangered species.
Public support was critical to the passage of the Marine Turtle Conservation Act in 2004, the culmination of years of effort. The bill passed both houses of Congress unanimously, with 44 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
The multinational species conservation funds were established in 1990 to help conserve some of the world's most threatened and magnificent creatures. These relatively small but critical programs have grown annually by small increments because they can demonstrate significant success. Last year Congress approved a modest increase for the five mammal and reptile programs to $6.5 million and the neotropical migratory bird fund to $4 million.
The President's new budget cuts the funding to $8.2 million for fiscal year 2007, a steep cut of 22%. In fiscal year 2006 Congress appropriated $691,000 for marine turtles. This year the administration's request cuts the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund by 57%, from $691,000 to $297,000, despite the fact that less than a third of the proposals received were funded!!! Instead of cutbacks, these funds need to be increased, particularly since these species face increasing threats from poaching, habitat destruction and civil unrest.
During the next two weeks, Congress will begin its appropriation cycle for fiscal year 2007 for the protection of sea turtles and other imperiled species: by March 16th in the House and April 3rd in the Senate Members of Congress need to express their support for specific amounts to the Congressional funding committees. Sea turtle organizations are requesting $1.2 million for the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund to move it toward the level of funding of the mammal programs. The Multinational Species Coalition, a network of conservation organizations, zoos and aquaria, sportsmen and veterinarians, is requesting $13 million for the individual multinational species funds. These individual funds focus on marine turtles, Asian elephants, African elephants, rhinos and tigers, great apes, and neotropical migratory birds. In addition, the coalition recommends an appropriation of $2.3 million for Wildlife without Borders.
It is critical that members of Congress realize the support for the Marine Turtle Conservation Act and Multinational Species Conservation Fund. Please call your legislators in Congress and ask them to include funding for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund and Wildlife without Borders in your personal request to the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee for fiscal year 2007.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Legislator's office.
To find out who your Senator is, visit www.senate.gov
Look up your Representative at: www.house.gov
Write Your Representative an e-mail through the U.S. House of Representatives website, or the Representative's website (linked through name) and use the "talking points" listed below.
I urge you to include funding for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund and Wildlife without Borders in your personal request to the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee for fiscal year 2007.
The Multinational Species Conservation Fund safeguards sea turtles, tigers, rhinos, elephants, great apes, and neotropical migratory birds. Please show your support for this program by requesting $15.3 million and by signing Dear Colleague letters, being circulated by Senator DeWine and Representative Shaw, to the Interior Appropriations Subcommittees in support of these programs.
The Multinational Species Conservation Fund encourages public-private partnerships through local and international matching contributions, enhancing the positive effects of this small program.
The Fund has an excellent track record of success in addressing the major threats facing these species, including poaching and illegal trade, and supporting scientific research , habitat preservation, and public education in the countries where these species are found. Continued support from the Fund will be needed to consolidate these gains.
Although I understand the budget constraints that we face, I urge you to maintain the growth of these small programs because the need is so great. Natural disasters, civil unrest, and failed economies challenge host countries where resources are insufficient to meet the needs of both people and wildlife. Continued support from the Multinational Species Conservation Fund will be needed to meet these challenges.
Thanks to The Ocean Conservancy for this Action Alert and their efforts!