• Congressmen George Miller (D-CA) and Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR) Step Up as Lead Sponsors
  • Legislation Would Reauthorize U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Programs that Protect Threatened Species Abroad

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (May 11, 2011) – The Wildlife Conservation Society applauded the introduction of H.R. 1760, the Great Ape Conservation Reauthorization Amendments Act of 2011, and H.R. 1761, the Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act, in the House of Representatives.

The bills would reauthorize the Great Ape Conservation Fund and the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, which are Multinational Species Conservation Fund (MSCF) accounts administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for international conservation.  Rep. George Miller (D-CA) is the lead sponsor of the Great Ape legislation while Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico) is the lead for the Marine Turtle legislation, and both are joined by a bipartisan group of original co-sponsors.  Along with H.R. 50, introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), these bills form a suite of legislation that will reauthorize all of the MSCF including those for rhinos and tigers, African elephants, and Asian elephants.

“I thank Congressmen Miller and Pierluisi for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of some of our most threatened iconic species,” said John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “The Species Funds are proven to make an impact toward on-the-ground conservation and we need to ensure they receive the Congressional support necessary to remain successful.  I urge the House of Representatives to quickly pass these important bipartisan bills.”

The Great Ape and Marine Turtle Conservation Funds have supported projects by several conservation organizations around the world.  The discovery of 125,000 western lowland gorillas, triggering the creation of three new national parks in the Republic of Congo, was supported by the Great Ape Conservation Fund.  The Marine Turtle Conservation Fund supports nesting beach protection and anti-poaching efforts in Central America that are providing refuge for growing numbers of hawksbill turtles.

Rep. George Miller said, “International efforts to conserve these truly amazing creatures are working, but they desperately need our continued support. A small contribution from the federal government makes a big difference in the field.  We should remain vigilant in protecting our closest non-human relatives – the great apes – from human threats around the world, while at the same time building stronger relationships with countries in Africa and Asia. The Great Apes conservation program has been a great success over the last decade and my colleagues and I strongly believe we should allow it to continue the good work it funds.”

Rep. Pedro Pierluisi said, “Through its Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, the United States plays a leading role in the protection and recovery of marine sea turtles.  Marine sea turtles are important to the health of our ocean and their imperiled status obligates us to continue our efforts to conserve them and their nesting habitats.  By reauthorizing the Marine Turtle Conservation Act, Congress would renew our nation’s commitment to support on-the-ground partnerships and the science needed to most effectively monitor, protect and recover the most threatened populations of marine sea turtles abroad.” 

Both the Great Ape Conservation Fund and Marine Turtle Conservation Fund will be beneficiaries of a new Wildlife Semipostal Stamp, which will be issued by the U.S. Postal Service in September 2011. The stamp will be sold at a premium price, with the residual funds supporting the MSCF at no cost to taxpayers.


Chip Weiskotten: (202-624-8172; cweiskotten@wcs.org)
Mary Dixon: (347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org)

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.