- Legislation would allow wildlife crimes to be prosecuted under and money laundering and racketeering laws and the Travel Act

WASHINGTON (January 8, 2014) –
Today, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) applauded the introduction of a Senate bill that would strengthen the law enforcement tools and penalties against wildlife trafficking. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bill.

The legislation would assist law enforcement in prosecuting wildlife crimes, including the illegal trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and other endangered animal parts, by allowing for increased fines and prison sentences. It would allow violations of the African Elephant Conservation Act or Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, and Endangered Species Act to be prosecuted under existing money laundering and racketeering statutes and the Travel Act, which have stricter penalties.

John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and director of the 96 Elephants campaign, said, “Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime that threatens some of our most iconic species with extinction. The current penalties are not enough to deter the poachers, traffickers and criminal syndicates behind the crimes. There is much more that the U.S. government can do to protect these endangered species. We applaud this bipartisan effort to make sure poachers and traffickers are held accountable and serve as a greater deterrent to future wrongdoing.”
Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Vice President, International Policy and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, said, “This legislation is a good step toward recognizing the gravity of wildlife crimes and ensuring that the penalties and tools available to prosecutors match that seriousness. This measure mirrors one of the Advisory Council’s recommendations for implementing the National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking and will serve as a deterrent to those seeking to profit from the slaughter of endangered species.”
Chip Weiskotten, 202-347-0672 x8172; cweiskotten@wcs.org
Stephen Sautner, 718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City,  visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia; Follow: @thewcs.