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Introducing the Wildlife without Borders Authorization Act

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Location: Washington, DC


INTRODUCING THE WILDLIFE WITHOUT BORDERS AUTHORIZATION ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 14, 2009)

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Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce today the Wildlife Without Borders Authorization Act

The Wildlife Without Borders Program was administratively created by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1983. For the past 25 years, the International Affairs Office has done a superb job of developing wildlife management and conservation efforts to maintain global species diversity.

While the Congress has already created Multinational Species Conservation Funds to assist highly imperiled African and Asian elephants, Rhinoceros and Tigers, Great Apes and Marine Turtles, the Wildlife Without Borders program has provided a funding lifeline to a number of endangered species that for whatever reason have not merited their own Multinational Species Conservation Fund.

The first conservation grants issued under this program were awarded to the Wildlife Without Borders Program for Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative. Since that time, additional grants have been allocated for projects in Africa, Mexico, India, China and the Russian Federation. In fact, in the past two decades, the International Affairs Office within the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has approved 955 conservation projects at a cost of $20.5 million in taxpayer money. These funds have been matched by more than $60 million in private non-federal money, which is a remarkable 3 to 1 matching ratio.

Among the conservation projects that have been approved are funds for the Winged Ambassadors Program to stop the killing of

Swainson's hawks in Argentina, a project to conserve the forest habitat for monarch butterflies, jaguar conservation in the Yucatan region, the restoration of the California condor in Baja California, Mexico and the purchase of equipment for law enforcement personnel to protect imperiled Far Eastern leopards, Amur tigers and snow leopards.

A fundamental goal of this program has been to build conservation capacity and establish ecosystem management regimes by allocating a small amount of U.S. taxpayer money. It is no exaggeration to state that these are the only funds available to assist these highly endangered international species and without this investment these species may become extinct in the wild.

During the last Congress, witnesses representing the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on H.R. 4455. Each of these organizations spoke in strong support of my bill to establish the Wildlife Without Borders Program into law. For instance, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums said that: ``AZA wholeheartedly supports this effort''. The Wildlife Conservation Society stated that: ``Congressional authorization for the Wildlife Without Borders program affirms the leadership of the U.S. Government within the international community, underscoring our commitment to our international wildlife treaty obligations, and encouraging coordinated international efforts to save wildlife species.'' Finally, the World Wildlife Fund testified that: ``There is much to be gained in authorizing the international conservation programs of FWS, and creating one umbrella to promote synergies, efficiencies and coordination.''

By establishing a Congressional authorization for the Wildlife Without Borders Program, we will send a positive message to the international community that the United States is committed to its international wildlife treaty obligations and we recognize the long-term importance of this program by enacting it into law. It will also ensure that this Congress has an opportunity to carefully examine this program, to evaluate its effectiveness and to decide whether its merits further expenditures of taxpayer money in the future.

I urge my colleagues to support this important conservation legislation.

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