Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Coons (D-DE), 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 (END) 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. Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).
"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," said Senator Portman. "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."
"Wildlife trafficking is not just a critical conservation issue; it also threatens the security of the United States and our international partners," said Senator Chris Coons. "The Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking has done outstanding work, but the threats posed by wildlife poaching and trafficking are constantly evolving. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with my fellow co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus, Senator Portman."
"Wildlife trafficking is a despicable practice and heinous crime that endangers conservation, our nation's security, and many other crucial concerns," said Congresswoman Meng. "We must continue our efforts to combat the problem and passing the END Wildlife Trafficking Reauthorization and Improvements Act is essential to helping ensure that we continue to make progress in this fight. I am pleased to join Rep. Fortenberry and Senators Coons and Portman in working to address this critical issue in a bipartisan, bicameral manner, and I look forward to the legislation being approved both houses of Congress."
"The sad nexus of wildlife trafficking, environmental degradation, and resulting destabilization lends itself to terrorism financing and a host of other dangers," said Congressman Fortenberry. "The END Act is an important initiative to stop poaching and prevent funds from going to corrupt regimes."
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.