State Wildlife Action Plan
Revising the SWAP
To safeguard our state’s natural heritage, Georgia DNR developed its first State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP, in 2005. This management plan outlines the steps needed to proactively conserve wildlife and habitats before they become rarer and more costly to protect. Funding comes through a State Wildlife Grant, with matching funds from Georgia’s Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Congress requires that the plan undergoes comprehensive review at least every 10 years to incorporate new information and changing conditions. Over the last several years, DNR has worked closely with partner agencies, organizations, academic institutions, land managers and other stakeholders to review and revise the plan.
The draft revision of the SWAP was made available for public comment through July 15, 2015, including online, through email and at three forums held across the state July 1, 7 and 8. Following further changes, the draft plan was submitted in September to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review and approval.
Although Georgia is one of the most biologically diverse states in the nation, approximately 320 of our native species have such low populations they are state and federally protected. Furthermore, 292 plant species and 349 animal species have been identified as high priorities for conservation in the draft 2015 SWAP. More than 100 species occurring within Georgia are petitioned for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. To recover and conserve these species and their habitats, the plan prioritizes 150 actions to address their needs.
High-priority species in the plan are those that rank highest for recommended research or other conservation-related measures.
Also, while focused on animals not fished for or hunted, rare plants and natural habitats, the SWAP does address controlling invasives such as feral hogs and coyotes, and researching, restoring and acquiring habitats that benefit nongame and game species, such as northern bobwhites and middle Georgia’s black bears. But the plan does not involve hunting, fishing or trapping regulations.
Since the original version of the SWAP in 2005, work such as prescribed burning, invasive species control, and native vegetation restoration have enhanced high-priority habitats on public and private conservation lands. Data gathered from survey and monitoring efforts has helped manage populations of amphibians, coastal shorebirds, sea turtles, and rare plants. Recovery efforts for federally-listed species, technical assistance programs for private landowners, and environmental education have all benefited from the resources and direction provided through Georgia’s SWAP.
Do you enjoy hearing the melodies of songbirds, watching the antics of wildlife, or photographing delicate wildflowers? As much as these natural resources enrich our lives aesthetically, they also are linked to us ecologically, socially and economically. Our quality of life is affected by how well we conserve wildlife and the places they call home.
By helping guide conservation efforts statewide, the SWAP works to ensure that the wildlife and wild places Georgians enjoy are conserved now and for future generations.
Established by Congress in 2000, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (SWG) Program is the only federal program designed to help prevent wildlife from declining to the point of becoming endangered. The goal: Keep common species common. Georgia's State Wildlife Action Plan ensures that funds are spent strategically on actions to restore and enhance priority wildlife populations and habitat. Since the inception of the program, Georgia WRD has received around $20 million for biological research, land acquisition, habitat restoration, reintroduction of native wildlife, partnerships with private landowners, education, and other conservation projects. As a condition for receiving SWG funding, every state and territorial fish and wildlife agency is required by Congress to develop, revise, and implement a State Wildlife Action Plan.
With more than 6,400 member organizations and businesses, the national Teaming With Wildlife (TWW) Coalition is one of the largest and most diverse coalitions ever assembled to support conservation. The TWW Coalition supports robust and dedicated funding for state nongame wildlife conservation, education, and nature-based recreation. The coalition was established in the mid 1990’s to address a long-standing funding disparity in fish and wildlife conservation. Although fish and wildlife are held in the public trust by the states for all citizens, hunters and anglers (who pay excise taxes on their equipment) bear a disproportionate burden of the funding. The TWW Coalition seeks to correct this imbalance by advocating for needed funding such as the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. You can lend your voice to this important cause by adding your organization to the Teaming With Wildlife coalition. To join the coalition, please visit: http://teaming.com/content/join-coalition.
Report poaching and wildlife violations. You can receive a cash reward if your tip leads to an arrest—even if you wish to remain anonymous.