Defenders of Wildlife today celebrates the omission of a large number of poison-pill, anti-Endangered Species Act riders from the fiscal year 2024  appropriations bill, released this weekend by House and Senate appropriators. Despite this win, Defenders is dismayed by the funding cuts to programs at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that are key to saving imperiled species. 

“Knowing  the House’s outright attacks against the Endangered Species Act were axed from this spending bill is cause for celebration and is a hopeful a sign that Congressional leaders are beginning to understand that the American people overwhelmingly support this vital law,” said Robert Dewey, vice president of government relations for Defenders of Wildlife. “However, efforts to conserve and protect our nation’s imperiled wildlife took alarming funding cuts that take us in the wrong direction at the very moment we must ramp up funding to address the growing biodiversity and extinction crisis we face.”  

“We are grateful to Senate leadership and House minority leadership for their success in blocking the dangerous policy direction for endangered species called for in the House bill and mitigating the even more draconian funding levels the House proposed,” he said.

Anti-ESA Riders

More than 15 anti-ESA riders had been proposed in the House this year, including ones in the Interior Appropriations bill that would have blocked protections for the Lesser-prairie chicken, the Northern long-eared bat, the Dunes sagebrush lizard, the Texas kangaroo rat and two species of mussels. Additionally, riders were proposed that would have brought back harmful ESA-regulations developed by the Trump administration along with riders stripping protections for gray wolves in the lower-48 and grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.  

Additional anti-ESA riders in the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would have harmed the North Atlantic right whale by blocking the National Marine Fisheries Service’s vessel speed rule and additional language related to Rice’s whale and vessel speed were also dropped. 

The longstanding rider blocking ESA protections for the Greater sage grouse was included once again, although not expanded in scope as called for the House bill. This rider has been included every year since 2014. Defenders will continue to advocate staunchly for its removal.

Funding Cuts

FWS implementation of the Endangered Species Act took an $8 million cut to key programs including listing, recovery, planning and consultation and candidate conservation. The cuts total nearly 3% to these programs, which were already significantly underfunded. The National Wildlife Refuge System budget was cut by $14 million and the U.S. Forest Service’s threatened and endangered species work was cut by $2 million.

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

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(202) 772-0295
Vice President for Government Relations
(202) 682-9400


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