WASHINGTON—The Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Humane Society of the United States applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 97, “Rescuing Animals With Rewards Act of 2019” to combat wildlife trafficking globally.
Also known as the RAWR Act, H.R. 97 was introduced by Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Dina Titus, D-Nev., and passed the House by voice vote today. Building on a law enacted in 2016 (P.L. 114-231), the bill authorizes the U.S. State Department to use its successful rewards program to combat the most significant perpetrators of wildlife trafficking. A companion bill, S. 1590, has been introduced into the U.S. Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said, “Wildlife trafficking is one of the most lucrative illicit trades in the world, bringing in over $10 billion a year in illegal profits and threatening endangered species worldwide. The RAWR Act provides an important additional tool to combat illegal wildlife trafficking on a global scale. We commend the House for swiftly passing a bill to crack down on the scourge of wildlife trafficking, and we hope that the Senate will quickly pick up the torch to get this across the finish line.”
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Whether for trinkets, trophies or the exotic pet trade, wildlife trafficking is a crime, plain and simple, and one that funds additional illegal activities. More species are threatened with extinction today than ever before and wildlife trafficking is no small factor in that. By offering rewards for certain information, the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program will help to not only protect these animals, but prevent other egregious crimes as well.”
Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations. According to the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, poachers, militarized criminal syndicates, and corrupt officials exploit our trade systems and weak institutions to profit from wildlife trafficking—profits that often filter into human and drug trafficking rings as well. The United States has been committed to combating wildlife trafficking, related corruption and money laundering.
The Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, which was established in January 2013, enables the State Department to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest, conviction or identification of significant members of transnational criminal organizations who operate primarily outside the United States. The law also allows for rewards for information that dismantles such organizations or leads to the disruption of their financial mechanisms.