Guest column: Bill could unleash a new era of wildlife conservation in Louisiana

From white-tailed deer to whooping cranes, wildlife are a big part of what defines Louisiana. Sadly, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) estimates that 362 species in the state are already at risk. It’s part of a larger national trend where more than one-third of America’s wildlife are edging toward extinction.

Right now, Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help protect our national wildlife heritage. A bipartisan bill called the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would dedicate $1.4 billion to proactive, collaborative efforts to help species at risk. It is a solution that matches the magnitude of the crisis — and it has real momentum.

The U.S. House passed the bill on a bipartisan basis in June. The Senate version has more than 42 co-sponsors, including 16 Republicans, and is expected to be voted on when the Senate reconvenes after the midterm elections. This bill would give LDWF $15.4 million a year to help the 362 at-risk species in the state. Despite Republican senators from Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas supporting the bill as co-sponsors, our own U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy have yet to show the same support.

This bill makes sense for Louisiana: The LDWF has decades of experience using the fees and taxes paid by hunters and anglers to ensure that Sportsman’s Paradise has bountiful fish and game. The department has the expertise and the mandate to help non-game wildlife, but lacks the funding.

The plight of Louisiana