Presidential Taskforce Releases Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Recognizing that wildlife trafficking is an urgent conservation and national security threat, the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Justice and State today released the implementation plan for the U.S. National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking. The agencies are Co-Chairs of the President's Task Force on Combating Wildlife Trafficking which comprises seventeen federal agencies and offices.

The implementation plan builds upon the Strategy, which was issued by President Obama on February 11, 2014, and reaffirms our Nation's commitment to work in partnership with governments, local communities, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to stem the illegal trade in wildlife.

Incorporating recommendations from the Secretary of the Interior's Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, the framework will guide and direct new and ongoing efforts of the Task Force in executing the Strategy.

Upon release of the implementation plan, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said, “Poaching and illegal trade in wildlife have long been a threat to species ranging from elephants to tigers, but they have escalated into an international crisis in the past decade as demand has grown and organized crime has discovered how lucrative this trade can be. We have reached a pivotal moment where we must take effective action or risk seeing iconic species go extinct in the wild. With this national strategy, we are taking the steps needed to both shut down illegal trade, including raising awareness and support through our trade agreements, while helping source countries crack down on poaching.”

Building upon the Strategy's three objectives – strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation – the plan lays out next steps, identifies lead and participating agencies for each objective, and defines how progress will be measured.

Some of those steps included in the implementation plan are:

  • Continuing efforts to implement and enforce administrative actions to strengthen controls over trade in elephant ivory in the United States;
  • Leveraging partnerships to reduce demand both domestically and abroad; and
  • Strengthening enforcement capacity, cooperation, and partnerships with counterparts in other countries.

The President's Task Force to Combat Wildlife Trafficking has made significant strides toward meeting the objectives since the National Strategy was announced one year ago. A fact sheet describing some of these important steps related to law enforcement, demand reduction and international cooperation can be found here.

The United States is also using trade agreements and trade policy to press for groundbreaking commitments on wildlife trafficking and wildlife conservation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with eleven other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the Transatlantic Partnership Agreement (T-TIP) with the European Union (EU). These commitments would be fully enforceable, including through recourse to trade sanctions, with far-reaching benefits for species like rhinos, sharks, and pangolins.

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