MS Conservation Strategy
Mississippi's Comprehensive Wildlife
CWCS is part of a nationwide collaboration of state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals to address the habitat needs of declining wildlife. These state strategies mark the first time in U.S. history that state wildlife agencies and the broader conservation community have cooperated to design a conservation blueprint for all wildlife species.
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This national planning effort is an outgrowth of the efforts led by the Teaming with Wildlife Coalition. Since the early 1990s, the 3,000-member nationwide Teaming with Wildlife Coalition has worked to secure funding for state fish and wildlife agencies to take preventative actions keeping rare species from becoming endangered and common species abundant. In 2001, Congress responded to this need by creating the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program and the related Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program (WCRP). From 2001 - 2005, over $300 million has been allocated to state wildlife agencies using a formula based on population and land area.
In order to make the best use of the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program, Congress charged each state and territory with developing a CWCS. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) is coordinating this effort on behalf of the State of Mississippi. These strategies will provide an essential foundation for the future of wildlife conservation and a stimulus to engage states, federal agencies and other conservation partners to strategically think about their individual and coordinated wildlife conservation strategies.
A list of 297 animal species in greatest need of conservation was developed from the Museum's heritage program database and information provided by regional biologists. The strategy was organized into four ecoregions comprised of 17 natural community types and 68 sub-types. Communities were ranked according to the number of priority species linked to them. More than 175 representatives from natural resources agencies, conservation organizations, agriculture and forest products industries, and educators were challenged to address wildlife conservation in a manner that allowed other desirable activities to continue. Our collaborators helped identify 23 statewide priority threats to species and their habitats and 30 potential conservation actions needed to abate these threats.
More than two-thirds of the land in the state is privately owned. Forests cover half the land area and 37 percent is in agricultural production. The U.S. Forest Service holds the largest percentage of public land, and together with national wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas harbors many of our endangered species. We attempted to incorporate the good work that is already being done through private land conservation programs and received input from agencies that manage large tracts of public land.
Each state's CWCS will join with the others to form a unified national plan. By sustaining natural communities, the great majority of species can be protected without having to manage each one individually - an efficient approach that helps avoid expensive last-ditch efforts to save species at the brink of extinction. Thanks to our many partners, we are pleased to announce that Mississippi's strategy was approved in January 2007.