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Garamendi, Young Reintroduce Bipartisan Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK) reintroduced the “Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act” (H.R.6059). 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. The global illegal trade in exotic wildlife, including at wet markets in mainland China and southeast Asia, presents a major threat to public health. Our bipartisan bill seeks to stop these potential outbreaks of deadly diseases leaping from trafficked wildlife to humans at the source,” concluded Congressman Garamendi.

“I am proud to help introduce the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act. As an avid sportsman, I have a long history of supporting legislation that strengthens our ability to stop wildlife trafficking and conserve our precious ecosystems,” said Congressman Don Young (R-AK). “I firmly believe that protecting wild animals 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 am grateful to my friend, Congressman Garamendi for his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with friends on both sides of the aisle to conserve global wildlife populations.”

The “Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act” (H.R.6059) 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 to American embassies and consulates 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 Multinational Species Conservation Funds for Great Apes, Rhinoceros and Tigers, and Marine Turtles, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Make serious violations for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by foreign-flagged 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.6059) is endorsed by major national wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and whistleblower groups, including:

  • African Wildlife Foundation
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • Conservation International
  • Focused Conservation
  • Humane Society Legislative Fund
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • National Whistleblower Center
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Oceana
  • 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.

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