Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Rare Cats and Canids Act of 2015 (H.R. 2697) on June 9 2015, stating in a press release, “At the end of the day, if we don’t protect these species, they’ll disappear and take large food chains with them. We’ll have nowhere to look but the mirror to understand the cause.” The act was sent to the House Natural Resources Committee but currently has not been scheduled for mark-up.
Congressman Grijalva first introduced the Rare Cats and Canids Act in 2014. The bill was sent to the Natural Resources Committee for review, but no action was taken before Congress adjourned and the bill died.
The recent events in Zimbabwe have caused a surge in national attention and public concern regarding the conservation status of lions and other rare cats, and have renewed efforts by Congressman Grijalva to move the legislation through committee. A letter was sent from Congressman Grijalva on July 30 to Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, requesting a hearing on his bill as soon as the House reconvenes in September. Congressman Grijalva added in a press release, “Now that the world is watching, let’s give FWS the funding it needs to prevent poaching and trafficking, let’s invest in big cat protection programs”.
The Rare Cats and Canids Act would establish a new fund in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Multinational Species Conservation Funds program. The fund would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to award up to $5 million per year in grants to rare cat and canid conservation projects. Wildlife management authorities in countries containing rare cat or canid ranges and experts from any country in the conservation of rare cats and canids would be eligible to apply for grants. Preference would be given to projects that are designed to ensure long-term conservation of the species and habitat and to projects that can provide some measure of matching funds.
The Multinational Species Conservations Funds program houses five distinct funds: the African Elephant Conservation Fund; the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund; the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund; the Great Ape Conservation Fund; and the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund. These funds provided over $10 million in 2013 to aid conservation of target species and were matched by an additional $16 million from project partners.
Sources: E&E News, U.S. FWS International Affairs, House Committee on Natural Resources Committee
|Zachary Sheldon is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.