On January 30, 2019, Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019 (H.R. 864). This bipartisan, groundbreaking legislation enhances the ability of informants worldwide to detect and report wildlife crimes. It also strengthens the laws criminalizing trafficking.
In a joint press release, both representatives recognized the importance of halting poachers, traffickers, and transnational criminal organizations—all of which are responsible for exacerbating the global extinction crisis. Furthermore, as Congressman Garamendi points out, “Our bipartisan bill advances American leadership in tackling the global wildlife trafficking and poaching crisis at no cost to the American taxpayer.”
The previous version of the bill gained the support of nearly a dozen members of the House of Representatives in 2018. Many others indicated their approval or have already signed onto the same language that is in the bill.
Advocates of the bill point to three key provisions that make it a powerful piece of legislation: First, it creates strong incentives for whistleblowers around the world to report trafficking crimes, as detecting wildlife crime is the first key step to stopping it. Second, it enhances the laws that can be used to prosecute wildlife traffickers and makes wildlife trafficking a predicate offense under federal racketeering and anti-organized crime statutes, the RICO and Travel Acts. Third, it mandates that all fines and penalties collected from successful prosecutions be used for wildlife conservation efforts worldwide without burdening American taxpayers.
The bill is endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and many leading wildlife conservation organizations.
“With its detection, enforcement, and restitution provisions, the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019 will be the best tool we have to effectively combat global wildlife crime. It puts powerful and effective tools into the law enforcement arsenal necessary to detect and prosecute these criminals,” stated Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the NWC.
The NWC issued an Action Alert urging its supporters to Send messages to Members of Congress & President Trump urging their support for the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act.