If poachers and wildlife trafficking networks operate like international criminal syndicates, why not treat them that way? That’s one approach outlined in a bill reintroduced in Congress today designed to bolster efforts to use whistleblower rewards to stop wildlife crime.
The bill aims to address problems with existing wildlife whistleblower programs that were identified in May by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It expands on existing whistleblower provisions and calls for new rules and the authority to enforce them.
The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act was reintroduced by Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska – who calls himself an avid sportsman — and California Democrat John Garamendi, who describes himself a conservationist and outdoorsman.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) each currently have the option to reward whistleblowers who expose poaching, trafficking and other wildlife crimes. But, the 2018 GAO audit found that agencies’ programs are underused and inefficiently implemented.
The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act would give more muscle to existing programs. The bill also would require that penalties and fine from prosecutions be redistributed to wildlife conservation efforts.