House Natural Resources Committee Approves Animal Welfare Bills

The Committee on Natural Resources in the House of Representatives has jurisdiction over many bills supported by AWI. Fortunately, Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) is a champion of animal welfare and environmental protection. Under his leadership, several significant bills have been approved by the committee recently, including the following:

Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 1380/S 2561) Big cats kept as pets are deprived of nearly everything that is natural and important to them. They are frequently abused and left to spend their entire lives in barren cages with little room to move around. 

The Big Cat Public Safety Act would outlaw private ownership of big cats. It would also prohibit physical contact between the public and big cats, putting an end to cruel “cub petting” operations. Facilities that profit from these exploitative practices engage in rampant breeding to churn out cubs, who quickly grow too large to be handled and are often then funneled into the exotic pet trade, perpetuating the problem. 

Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (HR 737/S 877) Many shark populations are experiencing steep declines. Each year, an estimated 73 million sharks are killed purely for their fins. Once sharks are hauled aboard, their fins are often sliced off and the mutilated animals are thrown back into the sea to suffocate, bleed to death, or be eaten by other animals. Unless the global demand for fins is curbed, shark populations will continue to decline.

The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act would prohibit the import, export, possession, trade, and sale of shark fins (except for those of smooth and spiny dogfish, making enforcement potentially problematic) to ensure that the United States does not continue contributing so heavily to the slaughter of sharks around the world.

CECIL Act (HR 2245) There is no credible scientific evidence that trophy hunting benefits conservation. In fact, trophy hunting hurts the structure and viability of wild populations because big game hunters target the largest, strongest animals, often putting entire family units at risk. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that an animal belonging to a charismatic species is worth more alive than dead in tourism revenue. 

The CECIL Act, introduced by Chairman Grijalva, would greatly limit the ability of sport hunters to import trophies of species that are under threat. Its provisions promote greater transparency from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, reverse shortsighted policies, and reinstate crucial protections for imperiled species.

SAVE Right Whales Act (HR 1568/S 2453) North Atlantic right whales are highly endangered, with only about 400 animals remaining. At least 30 North Atlantic right whales have died since the beginning of 2017. Collisions with vessels and entanglement in fishing gear have been identified as the cause of death for the majority of these whales, and 85 percent of North Atlantic right whales bear entanglement scars. 

The SAVE Right Whales Act would provide federal funding for collaborative efforts between states, nongovernmental organizations, and industry leaders to create and implement much-needed conservation efforts to protect these whales. The House version has been approved by the House Natural Resources Committee, and the Senate version has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee.

What You Can Do
Visit AWI’s Compassion Index website at www.awionline.org/compassion-index to urge your US representative and senators to support the PAW and FIN Conservation Act and the bills described on the previous page. You can also contact them by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121 or writing to them at Honorable [insert name], US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515; or Honorable [insert name], US Senate, Washington, DC 20510.

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