New Legislation to Fight Wildlife Crime

21 May 2015 | House Committee on Foreign Affairs News Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, introduced H.R. 2494, the Global Anti-Poaching Act. This legislation will help the United States and partner countries counter the terrorist organizations, rebel groups, and international criminal syndicates that are profiting from international wildlife trafficking.

A section-by-section summary of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494) is available HERE.

Upon introduction of H.R. 2494, Chairman Royce said: “With its high profit margins, the illicit trade of wildlife has become an extremely lucrative funding source for terrorist groups and international gangs. As rhino horn now sells for tens of thousands of dollars a pound, poaching is one of the most profitable criminal activities in the world. Tackling this growing problem conserves some of the world’s most iconic species and strengthens our national security. This bipartisan legislation will aid the global fight against the rampant poaching that is plaguing the world.”

Ranking Member Engel said: “We need to curb wildlife trafficking because it’s the right thing to do—and it’s also the smart thing to do to promote security and stability. The people responsible for the slaughter of these remarkable and imperiled animals are the same people fueling criminal enterprises, funding terrorism, and sowing violence. This legislation will help governments fight wildlife trafficking in the places where this crime is widespread, and it will also ramp up our efforts here at home to crack down on this practice. I’m pleased to join Chairman Royce in moving forward with this important measure.”

H.R. 2494:

  • requires the Secretary of State to identify the foreign countries determined to be a major source, transit point, or consumer of wildlife trafficking products and make a special designation for those countries that have “failed demonstrably” in adhering to international agreements on endangered or threatened species (the Secretary of State is authorized to withhold certain assistance from countries that have received this special designation);
  • puts wildlife trafficking in the same category as weapons trafficking and drug trafficking, making it a liable offense for money laundering and racketeering and requires fines, forfeitures, and restitution received to be transferred to federal conservation and anti-poaching efforts;
  • authorizes the President to provide security assistance to African countries for counter-wildlife-trafficking efforts;
  • takes a multi-country, regionally focused approach by expanding wildlife enforcement networks (WENs) to help partner countries strengthen coordination and share information and intelligence on illegal wildlife trafficking;
  • supports increased professionalization of partner countries’ wildlife law enforcement rangers on the front lines of the fight against poachers, who are often armed with night-vision goggles, heavy weaponry, and even helicopters.

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