Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
States Receive $55 Million to Protect Vulnerable Wildlife

February 26, 2021


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is distributing $55 million to state wildlife agencies through the State Wildlife Grant (SWG) Program to conserve imperiled wildlife and their habitats using the best available science. Ensuring species nationwide will benefit, grant funds are allocated to all states, commonwealths and territories according to a congressionally mandated formula based on population size and geographic area.

“State wildlife agencies conduct critical conservation work,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams. “The SWG Program allows the Service to support their unique authority and expertise in managing vulnerable species. Together, we create nationwide conservation networks that protect species before they need the conservation triage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

The SWG Program funds projects that accelerate the recovery of endangered species and can prevent others from being listed under the ESA. Since its inception 20 years ago, the Program has contributed to a myriad of conservation success stories, such as:

The Kirtland’s warbler is a small, yellow-bellied songbird found in the jack pine forests of Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario. Threatened by habitat loss and parasitism, the species was listed under the ESA in 1973. Decades of collaborative work were supplemented with SWG Program funding beginning in 2008. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, along with their partners, worked to restore the warbler’s habitat and control parasitic threats. Thanks to their efforts, the species rebounded from 170 breeding pairs in the 1970s and ‘80s to 2,300 breeding pairs in 2019, exceeding recovery plan goals. The warbler was removed from the endangered species list in 2019.

Fishers are small, chocolate-brown, mammalian predators found in four areas of the United States – New England, Great Lakes, Northern Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest. Habitat loss and over-trapping contributed to the species’ decline in Washington, and the fisher was listed as a state endangered species in 1998. To restore the populations, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reintroduced 260 fishers from 2008 to 2020 in three recovery areas – the Olympic, South Cascade and North Cascade mountains. WDFW used SWG Program funds to support this effort, which complemented funding from the National Park Service and other partners. In 2020, the partners achieved their release goals in all three recovery areas. Complementing these conservation efforts was the development of a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA). The CCAA was a voluntary agreement among non-federal forest landowners, the WDFW and the Service to ensure timberlands could continue to be worked and managed in support of the fisher recovery plan. More than 60 landowners enrolled their lands and protected over 3.3 million acres of forest habitats. By investing early in these conservation actions, the WDFW and partners may help the fisher recover without the need for federal listing under the ESA.

The spiny softshell turtle is a large reptile known for its flat, rubbery shell. The Vermont population can survive winter beneath the icy waters of Lake Champlain and is the only known population in New England. Shoreline development and mammalian predators pose threats to the population, and the species is currently listed as threatened in Vermont. Only nine Vermont nests were successful in 2004. With support from the SWG Program, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is working with partners to manage the turtle’s remaining nesting sites and raise hatchlings in captivity until they are more likely to survive. These proactive conservation efforts helped raise the number of successful nests to 97 in 2018 and may prevent the need for federal listing under the ESA in the future.

The SWG Program is administered by the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Funds must be used to address conservation needs described within State Wildlife Action Plans. These plans take a collaborative approach to conservation and facilitate partnerships among universities, industry, non-profit conservation organizations and private landowners. The projects also garner financial support from non-governmental organizations.

View the complete list of 2021 SWG Program apportionments here.

To learn more about SWG Program accomplishments, visit:

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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