Washington, DC | October 24, 2019 – Yesterday, thanks to the leadership of Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Senate passed the Rescuing Animals with Rewards Act, or RAWR Act, (S.1590). A nearly identical bill passed the House on July 15, 2019 and we are optimistic the bill will likely be sent to the President for signature after minor differences are reconciled.
John Kostyack, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, stated:
“We applaud the Senate for delivering this bipartisan victory for endangered wildlife. Illegal wildlife trafficking is one of the greatest threats to the survival of treasured species such as elephants and rhinos. By authorizing the State Department to provide rewards to whistleblowers, the Senate has increased the chances that the criminal networks behind wildlife trafficking will be exposed and prosecuted.”
Both the Senate and House bills would add wildlife trafficking to the State Department’s existing whistleblower reward program, thus authorizing rewards for those who bring to the State Department original information that leads to the successful prosecution illegal wildlife trafficking.
The RAWR Act would be a powerful tool in the fight against the multi-billion dollar industry of wildlife trafficking. Illegal wildlife trafficking not only threatens endangered species but undermines the rule of law and jeopardizes the security of local communities and their economic development.
Experience shows that whistleblower reward programs increase the efficacy of law enforcement. Offering rewards to those with original information about crimes incentivizes whistleblowers to assist law enforcement and take risks that otherwise might not be taken.