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Conservation groups want Senators to support wildlife recovery bill

Joshua Haiar
A full-page ad runs on the back of the Argus Leader telling Senators Rounds and Thune to support the American Wildlife Protection Act.

A number of national and state conservation groups are pressuring Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune to vote for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

A full-page ad asking the senators to reconsider their opposition to the bill ran in the Argus Leader on Thursday.

Some of the groups in favor of the measure include Pheasants Forever, the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

If passed, the bill would allow states and tribes to invest $1.4 billion annually to restore habitat and migration routes, control invasive species, and combat diseases.

The House passed its version of the bill in June on a bipartisan vote.

However, some members of those conservation groups say South Dakota's congressional delegation told them they cannot justify the spending at this time.

Jared Mott, conservation director of the Izaak Walton League, a national conservation and outdoor recreation group helped place the full-page newspaper ad. He said the bill is a win for South Dakota wildlife.

"South Dakota GFP has identified 104 species of greatest conservation need — everything from sage grouse to pallid sturgeon to Swiss foxes — in its state wildlife action plan," Mott said. "The Recovering America's Wildlife Act can provide GFP the resources to implement the proactive conservation projects necessary to keep species with the greatest conservation need from becoming threatened or endangered."

Habitat loss, invasive species, disease, and severe weather have all taken a toll on South Dakota wildlife in recent years.

Sens. Rounds and Thune did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Joshua is the business and economics reporter with SDPB News.