U.S. Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking

This week the White House released a new get-tough policy on wildlife trafficking. The director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that his agency will use its existing legal authority to stop virtually all commercial trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn with the United States.

This is more than chest-beating. The outcry of citizens in Africa, Europe, the United States and around the world is finally tipping the scale in the right direction.

This is exactly what Daniel Ashe, the director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, promised last November when six tons of elephant ivory was crushed at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Denver. Congratulations to Ashe and his agency for this action.

The U.S. Departments of Justice and State are also joining in the combined effort to detect and prosecute any movement of ivory within the U.S. and across its borders.

Elephant and rhino horn trafficking involve two species of note but hundreds of other endangered and protected species are going to get the same attention.

Ashe’s announcement demonstrates widespread regard for protecting endangered species, especially elephants and rhinos. While the announcement   doesn’t describe in detail the talks that must have taken place with hundreds of conservation groups, it is obvious from the wellspring of support among hunters and animal rights advocates that it is high time for the U.S. to take deliberate action to bring criminals into account.

This is about illegal trade. Legal possession of limited horn and tusk is permitted under CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) guidelines. But sports hunters and animal rights advocates stand on mutual ground – at least today – to bring an end to the decimation of the world’s iconic animals and all endangered species.

Bravo.

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