Congress Passes “END Wildlife Trafficking Act”

On September 21, 2016, The House of Representatives voted by unanimous consent to pass H.R. 2494, the Eliminate, Neutralize and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act. The bipartisan legislation, designed to combat the growing wildlife trafficking crisis, passed the Senate unanimously last week, on September 15. The legislation is now before the President for signature.

The Act is intended to “support global anti-poaching efforts, strengthen the capacity of partner countries to counter wildlife trafficking, and designate major wildlife trafficking countries.” The Act builds upon President Obama’s 2013 Executive Order, which established a presidential task force to combat illegal wildlife trade, and his 2014 National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) drafted the bill in response to the rapidly growing wildlife trafficking crisis: “Passage of this legislation is a critical step forward in tackling the rapidly growing crisis of wildlife trafficking as demand for wildlife products has spiked in recent years,” said Coons in a recent press release. “Not only are iconic wildlife species in grave danger of disappearing, but wildlife trafficking also fuels well-organized criminal networks, threatening global security,” Coons noted.

This law will ensure that the U.S. leads the charge to end international wildlife trade by requiring the federal wildlife trafficking task force to work with countries affected by wildlife crime analyzing threats and helping them put together a “strategic plan” to fix the problem. U.S. agencies will also be authorized to assist countries in strengthening their law enforcement in an effort to achieve their plan goals. The bill provides U.S. officials, including the Secretary of State and Attorney General, with more tools to address poaching and wildlife trafficking and bring wrongdoers to justice.

Unanimous passage by both the House and the Senate is incredibly encouraging, and only underscores that the push to end wildlife trafficking has become a national imperative.

The National Whistleblower Center is encouraged by Congress’s sincere attention to combating wildlife crime. The NWC was recently named a Grand Prize Winner in the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, an initiative of USAID in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC. NWC’s Grand Prize-Winning solution, the Secure Internet Wildlife Crime Reporting System, is a secure online platform, a one-stop shop through which whistleblowers can safely and anonymously file reports of wildlife crimes and gain useful information about how wildlife whistleblower laws work.

Learn about the National Whistleblower Center’s work to combat wildlife trafficking:

** Hat Tip to NWC Legal Intern Alexi Nathan for her help with this blog!

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