U.S. budget plan boosts wildlife funding Endangered species, habitat among programs benefiting

February 09, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

President Clinton's proposed budget for fiscal 1998 includes a $1.3 billion budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with significant increases in funding for endangered species, wildlife habitat restoration, refuge operations, fisheries and migratory bird management.

"The American people have made it clear they consider conserving our nation's fish and wildlife a top priority as we move into a new century," said Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. "The president's budget for the Fish and Wildlife Service reflects this desire to see wild places and wild creatures handed down as an inheritance to future generations."

The proposed budget calls for an increase of $14.9 million for refuge and wildlife programs that include refuge management, law enforcement and migratory bird conservation.

The endangered species program would get an increase of $11.4 million, while fisheries programs would receive and additional $3 million.

The proposed budget also includes an additional $5.3 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund. The $15 million for the fund is expected to be matched by $34.5 million from Canada and Mexico, allowing 337,000 acres of wetlands to be acquired, restored or conserved.

The USFWS migratory bird management plan is slated for an increase of $1.8 million, which would be used to monitor and conserve wild bird populations.

Changing shot

The USFWS has given final approval to bismuth-tin shot for waterfowl hunting and proposed temporary approval of tungsten-iron shot for the 1997-1998 season.

Bismuth-tin is an alternative to steel, which has been the only legal load for waterfowl hunting since lead shot was phased out in 1991.

Lead shot was found to be toxic to ducks and geese, which ingested spent pellets while feeding.

Bismuth-tin has been found to be nontoxic, and early tests on tungsten-iron shot for toxicity have been favorable.

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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