WCS Testifies Before Congress on Bills to Save Icons of the Wild Including the Issuance of New U.S. Postal Stamp

NEW YORK (MAY 5, 2009) The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Executive Vice President of Conservation and Science Dr. John Robinson testified today before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife, in favor of a new postage stamp that would help some of the world’s most beloved – but endangered – wildlife.

H.R. 1454, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF) Semipostal Stamp Act, would create a new funding mechanism for the MSCF Program by directing the U.S. Postal Service to issue semipostal stamps for wildlife.

The stamps would offer a convenient way for the public to support MSCF operations with proceeds going to conservation projects. The stamps would feature images depicting highly imperiled African and Asian elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, great apes and marine turtles.

Robinson also testified on behalf of H.R. 509 - the Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act. Both bills would be part of the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF) at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

In his testimony, Robinson said, “These important bills will reaffirm the leadership of the U.S. Government within the international community, underscore our commitment to our international treaty obligations, and encourage coordinated international efforts to save some of the world’s most charismatic and valued species.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society currently receives critical assistance from the MSCF for its conservation work with global priority species including tigers, African and Asian elephants, great apes and marine turtles. As a steering partner of a diverse Multinational Species Coalition consisting of 21 global groups, WCS has ensured that U.S. government support for global species conservation at FWS has steadily grown since their inception in 1990.

During his testimony, Robinson offered several policy recommendations to H.R. 1454 including a provision to ensure that existing and future Wildlife Without Borders Regional and Global Programs are eligible for funding.

H.R. 509 -- The Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act.

Resources available to date have not been sufficient to cope with the immense challenges facing marine turtles, including the continued loss of nesting habitat due to human activities. As a result, there has been a severe decline in marine turtle populations. The reauthorization of the MTCA affords Congress the opportunity to reevaluate the status of the world’s turtles.

Robinson recommended that H.R. 509 expand its funding efforts to support marine turtles in their foraging grounds as well as in their nesting beaches and also expand the eligible species funded by MTCF to include threatened freshwater turtles and tortoises.

The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds the leadership of U.S. Rep. Henry Brown (R-S.C.), Ranking Member of House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife for introducing these critical pieces of legislation. The Wildlife Conservations Society recognizes Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) for her efforts to advance species conservation in the U.S. Congress. Other witnesses that testified at the hearing included: Rowan Gould, Acting Director, FWS; Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice-President, World Wildlife Fund, Dr. Bhagavan Antle, Director and Founder, The Institute of Greater Endangered and Rare Species; Whit McMillan, Director of Education, South Carolina Aquarium.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation

Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
Scott Smith: (1-718-220-3698; ssmith@wcs.org)