Portman, Coons introduce bill bill to reauthorize wildlife trafficking law

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. –— U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to combat international wildlife trafficking and strengthen interagency efforts to tackle the issue.

Wildlife trafficking remains a serious transnational crime and threatens the conservation of vulnerable wildlife, regional security, and economic opportunity. It has also been linked to other organized criminal activities, including trafficking in narcotics, weapons, and people.

The Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Reauthorization and Improvements Act of 2021 would reauthorize legislation that was signed into law in 2016, expand the responsibilities of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, and enhance law enforcement authorities for the Fish and Wildlife Service to better combat wildlife trafficking.

Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Reps. Grace Meng, D-New York, and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska.

“As a co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus, I am pleased to join Senator Coons in introducing the END Wildlife Trafficking Reauthorization and Improvements Act to help prevent the trafficking and poaching of the world’s most threatened species. Wildlife trafficking is not only a matter of conservation but also national security and international stability, as billions in profits from the illegal wildlife trade are used to finance other illicit and terrorist activity,” Portman said. “By reauthorizing and expanding the responsibilities of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and enhancing existing law enforcement authorities, this bill strengthens the tools the U.S. government has to help combat trafficking around the globe. I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this important bipartisan legislation.”

The End Wildlife Trafficking and Reauthorization and Improvements Act of 2021 is endorsed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Defenders, Conservation International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Conservation Caucus Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy.

Since it was passed into law in 2016, the END Wildlife Trafficking Act has aided in the arrest of members of wildlife trafficking networks and supported interagency efforts to tackle the issue globally through country-specific and regional initiatives. The END Wildlife Reauthorization and Improvements Act reauthorizes the duties of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and related reports on major wildlife trafficking countries, expands the role of technology in anti-trafficking efforts, provides additional legal authorities for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prosecute wildlife trafficking cases, and prevents funds from benefitting security forces that commit human rights violations.