CONTACT:
Steve Weber (603) 271-2461
John Kanter (603) 271-2461
Liza Poinier (603) 271-3211
December 11, 2003

Congress Gives Boost to New Hampshire's Wildlife Programs

CONCORD, N.H. -- New federal funds amounting to $615,000 will flow into New Hampshire as its 2004 share of State Wildlife Grants, the nation's core program for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. The funding is within the Interior Appropriations Bill signed by the President on November 10, 2003.

"We thank New Hampshire's Congressional delegation and our other supporters, whose efforts have created wildlife conservation opportunities even during difficult budget times," said Lee E. Perry, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Putting these wildlife dollars to work now will save the state money in the future, he noted, because "keeping wildlife off the Endangered Species List is considerably more economical and successful than recovering a species once it's in trouble."

All four members of New Hampshire's Congressional delegation voted in support of the appropriations bill. Seventy-three members of the House of Representatives and 33 Senators, including U.S. Senators Judd Gregg and John E. Sununu and Congressman Charlie Bass, signed letters seeking a substantial increase in funding. Sen. Gregg, who helped the program get its start four years ago, played a significant role in assuring this year's increase as a member of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on the Interior.

The State Wildlife Grants program provides critical funding for hundreds of species not hunted, fished for or trapped in New Hampshire. As in most states, N.H. Fish and Game activities have been funded chiefly through sportsmen and women's dollars from hunting and fishing license sales and excise taxes on gear. While these sportsmen's funds have proved successful in restoring and managing game populations, according to Perry, there has not been enough to go around to safeguard the full spectrum of wildlife and the habitats they depend on.

"These funds support our two-pronged approach to conservation," says John Kanter, coordinator of New Hampshire's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program for Fish and Game. "For species like the Karner blue butterfly, piping plover and common tern, we need to aggressively restore habitats and protect existing populations so we don't lose them." For an array of other at-risk species, Kanter notes, "we need to identify and develop strategies to protect the most significant habitats with thorough analysis and timely planning."

New Hampshire's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is currently focusing its State Wildlife Grant-funded efforts on a comprehensive wildlife conservation plan for the entire state. A broad spectrum of people, agencies and organizations, including local landowners and land managers, is involved in compiling and mapping local wildlife and habitat data; the next step is developing a suite of strategies to conserve wildlife, especially species of concern, taking into consideration biological, social and economic factors. In the past several years, the Nongame Program has used State Wildlife Grant funds to study and protect piping plovers, common and roseate terns, pine martens, Blanding's turtles and New England cottontails, plus other rare species and their habitats.

A coalition of 3,000 groups called Teaming With Wildlife has been instrumental in gaining key bipartisan support for State Wildlife Grants. Coalition members range from sportsmen and women to birdwatchers and outdoor-related businesses. For more information about State Wildlife Grants and the Teaming with Wildlife Coalition, visit www.teaming.com.

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