January 20, 2021
Jamie Rappaport Clark

Pulling a 180. Reversing course. Making a U-turn. Whatever you call it, it’s a complete turnaround from the direction you’ve been heading. That is what our planet needs in 2021. On the verge of a sixth mass extinction, we cannot add fuel to the fire by actively wreaking havoc on the imperiled species and the habitats they need to survive. Wildlife and wild places have been under constant assault over the past four years, which is why we need to pull an immediate 180 and course correct.

Road killed snake on border road in San Bernadino NWR
DHS

The Trump administration picked some of the most corrupt, industry-beholden, political anti-conservation appointees to lead agencies. Despite obvious known conflicts of interest, they made repeated decisions undermining the health and well-being of our country’s environment, weakening long-standing wildlife protections, rolling back more than 125 environmental laws and perpetrating outright disregard for the conservation stewardship responsibilities they were entrusted to uphold. It was disheartening and frustrating and, in numerous cases, deadly for imperiled species on the brink of extinction throughout the country. 

Thankfully for wildlife and special places, we can finally turn around and chart a new course through collaborative partnerships and a proactive nationwide campaign to restore, protect and strengthen wildlife conservation in America. The new administration will be staffed with conservation champions who are ready to go and know they have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to set things right. And they have promised to think big. 

A pink sunset over the snow-covered rim of the Grand Canyon
K. Thomas/NPS

Defenders of Wildlife is dreaming big for this year and beyond, too. We sent the incoming Biden administration a blueprint for wildlife conservation to help heal the nation’s wounds and address the extraordinary challenges ahead. We urged the president-elect and his team to highlight and focus on what we believe are critically important as we fight to save nature.

We have to act now to stop biodiversity loss.

The Howe Ridge Fire from Lake McDonald Lodge with people walking around the lake edge
NPS

We must meaningfully address the threat of climate change, especially its impact on exacerbating an escalating biodiversity crisis.

We need to protect public health and prevent pandemics by strengthening efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.

We must promote racial justice and equity, including enhanced partnerships with tribes and disadvantaged communities.

We must rebuild the economy while putting people back to work and investing in conservation.

We must refocus the federal land management system on conservation.

We must rebuild the federal government, restoring transparency, accountability, integrity and the rule of law.

Bald Eagle at Sunset
Patrick Davis

As an immediate first step, we need executive orders and forward-thinking rulemaking that strengthen protections and set strategies to tackle the conservation challenges head-on. Working together with the Biden administration on these priorities and actions, we can ensure that our priceless natural legacy—our amazing abundance of wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes—will endure. 

Coastal wolf in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
D. Kopshever/NPS

A tremendous opportunity lies before us, and Defenders is excited to work on proactive conservation initiatives with an administration that values nature as much as we do. This is a time for bold ideas, decisive and swift action and involvement at all levels and from all communities. From each of our field offices around the country to our headquarters in Washington, D.C., Defenders stands ready to assist in conservation endeavors from habitat protections to reintroductions to national strategies. 

We are going to need your help too. We will applaud the Biden administration when they do the right thing for wildlife as well as hold them accountable when their actions fall short. We will also need our members and activists to speak up for the wildlife we love that have no voice. 

Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware
DOI

President Biden and Vice President Harris will assume office as the nation faces a surging climate crisis, an unprecedented biodiversity crisis and an overwhelming loss of confidence in the government that now threatens our democracy. It won’t be easy, and they have a lot of work to do. We look forward with a sober awareness of the work ahead but with optimism and a focused determination to change the direction for wildlife.


This is part of a series about where we hope the Biden-Harris administration will take action for wildlife in the first 100 days. Read more:

Restoring the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands→

Author(s)

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Jamie Rappaport Clark headshot

Jamie Rappaport Clark

President and CEO
Jamie Rappaport Clark’s lifelong commitment to wildlife and conservation led her to choose a career in wildlife biology. She has been with Defenders of Wildlife since February 2004 and took the reins as president and CEO in 2011.
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