Garamendi, Young Introduce Bipartisan Wildlife Conservation And Anti-Trafficking Bill
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Davis, Fairfield, Yuba City) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act (H.R.864). Congressman Garamendi is a former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under President Bill Clinton, and Congressman Young is the Dean of the U.S. House Representatives.
“Poachers, traffickers, and transnational criminal organizations responsible for human rights abuses are driving iconic wildlife to extinction around the world,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA). “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. As an avid sportsman, I have a long history of supporting legislation to strengthen our ability to stop wildlife trafficking and conserve wildlife,” said Congressman Don Young (R-AK). “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 U.S. waters. I look forward to working with Rep. Garamendi to conserve global wildlife populations.”
The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act (H.R.864) would strengthen federal enforcement against poachers, traffickers, and the global trade in illegal wildlife and seafood products. The bill would also provide dedicated funding for conservation efforts, at no expense to American taxpayers. Specifically, the bipartisan bill would:
- Strengthen enforcement by making serious wildlife trafficking violations predicate offenses under federal racketeering and anti-organized crime laws (RICO and Travel Acts).
- Provide monetary incentives for whistleblowers to come forward and provide actionable intelligence on global wildlife trafficking rings.
- Direct federal agencies to finally implement authorities provided by current law to reward whistleblowers for wildlife crimes like trafficking, poaching, and black-market imports.
- Authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to station law enforcement officials and agency personnel abroad in high-intensity wildlife trafficking areas, as embeds in American embassies and consulates.
- Direct any penalties, fines, forfeitures, and restitution paid to the U.S. government for criminal violations of the federal organized crime, racketeering, and money laundering statutes to support wildlife conservation efforts, at no expense to American taxpayers.
- Improve the Great Ape and Marine Turtle Conservation Funds, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Makes serious violations for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by foreign vessels or fraudulent seafood imports into the United States a predicate offense under the federal money laundering criminal law. According to the U.S. State Department, IUU fishing often goes hand-in-hand with transnational organized crime, human rights abuses such as human trafficking and forced labor, and weapons and drug trafficking.
The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act (H.R.864) is endorsed by major national wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and whistleblower groups, including:
- African Wildlife Foundation
- Animal Welfare Institute
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Conservation International
- Earth Day Network
- Environmental Investigation Agency
- The Humane Society International
- Humane Society Legislative Fund
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- Mission Blue / Sylvia Earle Alliance
- National Whistleblower Center
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Sea Turtle Conservancy
- Thinking Animals United
- Vulcan, Inc.
- Wildlife Conservation Society
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
The full text of the legislation can be viewed here. The bill currently awaits action by the House Natural Resources and Judiciary Committees.