What the Latest Annual Funding Means for Birds

A package of FY24 funding legislation contains some benefits, but also some disappointments, for bird conservation.
American Kestrel. Foto: Gary Grossman/Audubon Photography Awards

When Congress passed six funding bills last week to avert a partial government shutdown, the result brought a mixed bag for many bird conservation programs that protect our environment and wildlife.  Some provisions of the fiscal year FY24 omnibus package were disappointing, like the Migratory Bird Management program, which was granted only 57 percent of the funding requested by President Biden. Protections for the Upper Mississippi River, watershed management and aquatic ecosystems would still see stagnant funding. 

Limitations like this have been proposed for years, in part because of budget caps set in place by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.  Conservation’s crown jewels, like our National Wildlife Refuge System and other programs, are reeling from years of insufficient funding and staffing crises; additional funding cuts in FY24 will cripple some of the most important tools we have to protect our environment and the wildlife that live in it.  

On the positive side, Audubon was pleased to see that the final legislation excluded many of the dangerous anti-wildlife and anti-environment policy “riders” introduced this past year. These amendments seek to undermine landmark legislation like the Endangered Species Act. We encourage Congress to keep the door shut to harmful policy riders in the FY25 appropriations process.

We are in a critical moment for birds and people. The dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are some of the defining challenges of our time. As Congress begins the appropriations process for FY25, still under the shadow of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Audubon is committed to protecting bird conservation programs and environmental funding from drastic cuts. 

Although the FY24 funding package does not reflect the funding needed to fully protect wildlife and the environment, Congress can still play a role in conserving birds and their habitats by passing legislation like the Migratory Birds of the Americas Enhancement Act and the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act.