Landmark Bill Combating Wildlife Trafficking Re-Introduced in House of Representatives

Published on January 30, 2019

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Landmark Bill Combating Wildlife Trafficking Re-Introduced in House of Representatives

Bill contains whistleblower protections, enhanced enforcement, and restitution provisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. | JANUARY 30, 2019 — Today, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019 (H.R. 864). This groundbreaking legislation enhances the ability of informants worldwide to detect and report wildlife crimes, and strengthens the laws criminalizing trafficking.

To learn more about the bill, visit the National Whistleblower Center’s website.

“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.”

Read Garamendi and Young’s joint press release. Read the full text of the bill.

The bipartisan bill is endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center, the top whistleblower advocacy group, and leading wildlife conservation organizations.

Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, Stephen M. Kohn, stated: “This is the most important piece of anti-trafficking legislation of our generation. With its detection, enforcement, and restitution provisions, the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019 will be the best tool we have to effectively combat global wildlife crime. It puts powerful and effective tools into the law enforcement arsenal necessary to detect and prosecute these criminals.”

Kohn added: “There are three reasons why this bill is such a powerful piece of legislation.

  • First, it creates strong incentives for whistleblowers around the world to report trafficking crimes.
  • Second, it enhances the laws that can be used to prosecute wildlife traffickers and makes wildlife trafficking a predicate offense under federal racketeering and anti-organized crime statutes, the RICO and Travel Acts.
  • Third, it mandates that all fines and penalties collected from successful prosecutions be used for wildlife conservation efforts worldwide at no costs to the American taxpayers.”

The bill was originally introduced in May 2018 by Reps. Young and Bordallo (D-GU). That very month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report which demonstrates that action must be taken in U.S. government agencies to better enforce and combat the illegal wildlife trade. The full text of the GAO report can be viewed here.

“This report reinforces the urgent need for Congressional action,” said Kohn.

With wide bipartisan support, the bill is expected to move forward in both the House and Senate as the new Congressional term kicks into gear.

The  National Whistleblower Center issued an Action Alert urging its supporters to Send messages to Members of Congress & President Trump urging their support for the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act.

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