Wildlife Protection Whistleblower Laws

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Whistleblower Reward Laws

Whistleblowers worldwide can qualify for monetary rewards when reporting wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing. Many wildlife laws, including the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act, direct the Departments of Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Commerce (National Marine Fisheries Service, as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Treasury, and Agriculture to pay monetary rewards to persons who disclose original information concerning wildlife crimes that results in a successful enforcement action.

Whistleblower awards are available for anyone who can provide information about a violation of a wildlife protection law to government officials if they successfully pursue an 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.

“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). 

Alternatively, laws such as the False Claims Act (“FCA”) and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) that have whistleblower provisions address criminal activity often found in wildlife trafficking, illegal fishing, and illegal logging.

Wildlife trafficking and related wildlife crimes often involve violations of these two laws. 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 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 FCA. 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.

The NWC’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program is harnessing robust anti-corruption and anti-fraud laws, including the FCA and FCPA, to combat the widespread corruption driving the global illegal wildlife trade.

False Claims Act:

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: Click here for more information!

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