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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 2, 2019 09:13 AM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prohibiting Trafficking in Exotic Wildlife
Soon I will introduce legislation prohibiting the sale, offer to sell, trade, possession with intent to sell, and purchase of imperiled animal parts or products. New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Illinois and other states have already passed similar legislation.

Wildlife trafficking continues to be an epidemic plaguing most countries around the world. Wildlife and wildlife parts are primarily consumed as trophies, luxury items, souvenirs, and cultural/religious items. This can involve a diverse range of products prized by humans including skins, furs, claws, teeth, and horns. Many of these items are sought out as a means of displaying wealth and social status.

The most obvious problem associated with the illegal wildlife trade is that it can cause overexploitation to the point where the survival of a species hangs in the balance. Historically, such overexploitation has caused extinctions or severely threatened species. This has been well-publicized in the cases of tigers, rhinoceroses, elephants and many others. For example, in the past 40 years the world has lost 95 percent of its rhino population. According to WildAid, the number of rhinos killed in South Africa has exceeded 1,000 every year since 2012. Today, very few rhinos survive outside national parks and reserves due to persistent poaching and habitat loss, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Wildlife trafficking is an industry that not only threatens to decimate vulnerable species but could have much larger impacts such as the degradation of important ecosystems and threats to national security. Dangerous organized cartels, like the Lord's Resistance Army, are using poaching and wildlife trafficking to fund their criminal activities. The global illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion-dollar criminal market, similar in size to the illegal trades in drugs, weapons, counterfeit currency and human trafficking.

States have an important role in protecting species that are subject to the illegal wildlife trade. Federal law, like the Endangered Species Act, regulates commerce between states and the importation and exportation of parts or products made from endangered and threatened animal species, but due to the increasing demand for these products around the world, it is important to align state law with federal and international law to appropriately regulate these markets on a local level.

It is in the public’s best interest to protect animal species. All ecosystems are tied together. If one collapses it will have grave effects on others, including our own. The most effective way to discourage illegal trafficking is to eliminate its markets and profits.

Please join me in supporting this important legislation.

If you have questions about this legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Introduced as SB605