Wildlife Protection Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblowers worldwide can qualify for monetary rewards when reporting wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing.

Many whistleblowers do not realize that wildlife protection laws, including the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act, authorize the Departments of Interior, Commerce, Treasury, and Agriculture to pay monetary rewards to persons who disclose original information concerning wildlife crimes that results in a successful enforcement action. Both U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike can be wildlife crime whistleblowers and are eligible to receive rewards. The award amount is determined by the responsible official of the relevant agency.

There are also a strong framework of U.S. reward laws such as the False Claims Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and Dodd-Frank Act that can apply to crimes that occur during wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing.

For example, if a publicly-traded shipping company bribed an official at a Kenyan port so that the company could load ivory (or illegal timber, etc.) onto the ship without the official interfering, this could be a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). If that same ship then comes into a U.S. port and a company attempts to import the product into the U.S., falsifying the documentation needed in the import process, this could be a violation of the False Claims Act (FCA), under the reverse false claims provision. And finally, if that same ship illegally dumps waste or other products in the oceans as it makes its way around the world, even far into international waters, it may be in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships / MARPOL Protocol (APPS).

The NWC’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program is harnessing robust anti-corruption and anti-fraud laws, as well as traditional wildlife conservation laws, to combat the widespread corruption driving the illegal global trade in animals, timber, and fish.

Wildlife Conservation Laws

African Elephant Conservation Act: 16 U.S.C. § 4225

Antarctic Conservation Act: 16 U.S.C. § 2409(b)(4)

  • Authorized to Pay Rewards: Any officer authorized by the Director of the National Science Foundation and the Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and Treasury.
  • Whistleblower Provision
  • Full Text

Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention Act of 1984: 16 U.S.C. § 2439(b)(5)

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act: 16 U.S.C. § 668(a)

Endangered Species Act: 16 U.S.C. § 1540 (d)

“The Secretary or the Secretary of the Treasury shall pay, from sums received as penalties, fines, or forfeitures of property for any violation of this chapter or any regulation issued hereunder a reward to any person who furnishes information which leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property for any violation of this chapter or any regulation issued hereunder.” 16 U.S.C. § 1540(d)

Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act: 16 U.S.C. § 742/(k)(2)

Lacey Act: 16 U.S.C. § 3375(d)

“any violation of this chapter or any regulation issued hereunder (1) a reward to any person who furnishes information which leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property for any violation of this chapter or any regulation issued hereunder.” 16 U.S. Code § 3375(d)

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: 16 U.S.C. § c1861(e)(1)(B)

Marine Mammal Protection Act: 16 U.S.C. § 1376(c)

  • Authorized to Pay Rewards: Secretary of the Treasury, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Commerce or Secretary of the Interior.
  • Whistleblower Provision
  • Full Text

National Marine Sanctuaries Act: 16 U.S.C. § 1437(f)(1)(C)(ii)

Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1998: 16 U.S.C. § 5305a(f)

Wild Bird Conservation Act: 16 U.S.C. §§ 4912(c), 4913(b)(2)(A)

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The following acts do not contain individual whistleblower provisions; however, provisions are applicable through the Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act of 1978 and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

  • Atlantic Tunas Convention Act of 1975: 16 U.S.C. §§ 971-971k: Full Text
  • Billfish Conservation Act of 2012: 16 U.S.C. § 1827: Full Text
  • Ensuring Access to the Pacific Fisheries Act: 16 U.S.C. §§ 7701-7710: Full Text
  • Fur Seal Act of 1966: 16 U.S.C. §§ 1151-1175: Full Text
  • High Seas Fishing Compliance Act of 1995: 16 U.S.C. §§ 5501-5509: Full Text
  • Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982: 16 U.S.C. §§ 773-773k: Full Text
  • North Pacific Anadromous Stocks Act of 1992: 16 U.S.C. §§ 5001-5012: Full Text
  • Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Convention Act of 1995: 16 U.S.C. §§ 5601-5610: Full Text
  • Pacific Salmon Treaty Act of 1985: 16 U.S.C. §§ 3631-3645: Full Text
  • South Pacific Tuna Act of 1988: 16 U.S.C. §§ 973-973r: Full Text
  • Sponge Act: 16 U.S.C. §§ 781-785: Full Text
  • Tuna Conventions Act of 1950: 16 U.S.C. §§ 951-962: Full Text
  • Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act: 16 U.S.C. §§ 6901-6910: Full Text
  • Whaling Convention Act of 1949: 16 U.S.C. §§ 916-916l: Full Text

Other Laws Applicable to Wildlife Protection

False Claims Act: 31 U.S.C. § 3729-3732

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