WASHINGTON – If passed by the Senate, the Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act will authorize rewards to individuals who furnish information assisting in the prevention or identification of crimes related to wildlife trafficking, through an existing Department of State rewards program. This bill would provide another tool for law enforcement to use in cracking down on transnational organized criminal syndicates, and protect wildlife around the globe from poaching and illegal trafficking.
The bipartisan bill (H.R. 97 and S. 1590) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Dina Titus (D-NV), and in the Senate by Senators. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Wildlife Trafficking: Big Business for Criminals
- · Wildlife trafficking is the fourth most lucrative criminal enterprise worldwide, generating an estimated $8-10 billion or more annually.
- · Today’s poachers are often well-funded, militaristic units linked to global criminal networks and capable of staging sophisticated cross-boundary poaching operations.
- · Evidence has demonstrated ties between traffickers in wildlife and other criminal enterprises, including illegal arms, drugs, and even terrorist activities.
- · Disrupting wildlife trafficking networks can shut down criminal endeavors that threaten not only imperiled wildlife, but also national security and global stability.
Animals are Disappearing Faster than Ever Before
- · Poaching and the trade in illegal wildlife and wildlife parts poses a grave threat to species around the world.
- · Live animals, including birds, mammals, and reptiles, may be stolen from the wild funneled into the illegal pet trade where they face an uncertain fate in captivity.
- · Other animals – including elephants, rhinos, and tigers – are slaughtered so that their tusks, horns, fur – even their blood and bile – can be traded on the black market as trinkets and “medicines”.
- · Between 2014 and 2017 alone, more than 100,000 African elephants were killed by poachers.
The RAWR Act passed the House of Representatives on July 15, 2019. It is currently with House Foreign Relations Committee.
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