Laws on the books designed to protect wildlife whistleblowers have been underutilized, according to a spring report from the Government Accounting Office.  Now, two groups devoted to wildlife protection have joined with the National Whistleblower Center to help ensure that U.S. agencies use the tools they have to protect animals and fisheries and prevent trafficking.

Thinking Animals United is an advocacy group that works “to galvanize worldwide support for the care, protection, and conservation of animals and other species.”  It has signed an agreement with the NWC to “develop joint endeavors, and exchange information with regards to addressing the relationship between environmental crime, economic growth, and national security,” according to a statement from the two groups.

Thinking Animal United president Bonnie Wyper said her group wants to help get the word out to the public about the whistleblower program.

The International Network for Environmental Enforcement and Compliance (INECE) has signed a similar agreement with the NWC. The organization supports environmental compliance and enforcement efforts in more than 150 countries through the effort to “develop networks for enforcement cooperation, and strengthen capacity to implement and enforce environmental requirements.”

Director Dr. Xiao Recio-Blanco of INECE said in an announcement that its effort to strengthen environmental rule of law will be reinforced through its partnership with the NWC.

The April GAO report found that wildlife trafficking is valued at approximately $23 billion a year, and that the U.S. is one of the world’s largest trafficking markets. The report found that trafficking has “pushed several endangered species to the brink of extinction” and has devastated “wild populations of elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, pangolins, turtles, exotic birds, and many other species.”

The GAO recommended a top-down review of the rewards program designed to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.