Washington, DC—Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) today introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019, which would strengthen the enforcement powers of federal agencies tasked with fighting poaching and wildlife trafficking. The bill is endorsed by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and 19 other leading animal welfare and conservation organizations.
This legislation, first introduced in 2018, builds on the bipartisan Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2015 to provide the United States with the tools necessary to fight these global crimes, which are often perpetrated by transnational criminal organizations and extremist groups.
“Poachers, traffickers, and transnational criminal organizations responsible for human rights abuses are driving iconic wildlife to extinction around the world,” Garamendi said. “Our bipartisan bill advances American leadership in tackling the global wildlife trafficking and poaching crisis at no cost to the American taxpayer.”
“I am proud to once again cosponsor the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act,” Young said. “As an avid sportsman, I have a long history of supporting legislation to strengthen our ability to stop wildlife trafficking and conserve wildlife. I believe that protecting wildlife and our fisheries requires a new and strategic approach to put an end to poaching worldwide and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing within US waters. I look forward to working with Rep. Garamendi to conserve global wildlife populations.”
Specifically, the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act reclassifies serious wildlife trafficking offenses as violations of federal racketeering and other anti-organized-crime statutes, directs the US Fish and Wildlife Service to station law enforcement officials in high-intensity wildlife trafficking areas abroad, encourages whistleblowers to report crimes, and directs funds collected from criminal violations to support wildlife conservation efforts, among other provisions. It would also provide dedicated funding for great ape conservation by redirecting fines and penalties collected for certain Endangered Species Act or Lacey Act violations to the existing Great Ape Conservation Fund.
“The slaughter of elephants, rhinos, tigers and other imperiled species is a devastating crisis, and demands the strongest enforcement efforts and penalties,” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Cracking down on wildlife trafficking and poaching has long been a bipartisan effort, and I applaud Congressman Garamendi and Congressman Young for continuing and strengthening that tradition. We will work to ensure that Congress takes swift action on this legislation.”
The bill awaits consideration in the House Natural Resources and Judiciary committees.
Margie Fishman, (202) 446-2128, firstname.lastname@example.org