WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, praised the Administration’s just-released plan to implement its National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking. The National Strategy was released a year ago today and for the first time prioritized wildlife trafficking as an issue of national importance. The implementation plan makes the strategy a reality and was released jointly on Wednesday by the Departments of State, Justice, and the Interior.

“Wildlife trafficking threatens not just iconic wildlife, but also national security, community stability, and economic development,” Senator Coons said. “It’s a mistake to think about wildlife trafficking as just a conservation challenge when it increasingly involves heavily armed, well-organized, criminal networks that threaten the safety and development of communities. As demand continues to grow, we need to bring together government agencies, the private sector, and foreign governments to combat the illegal wildlife trade. The President’s National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking was a strong first step toward recognizing the size of the problem and today’s implementation plan takes it from strategy to reality. As we move forward, I am eager to work with the Administration and our domestic and international partners to realize this plan and will continue to fight on the Appropriations Committee to ensure it’s adequately funded.”

The implementation plan follows five guiding principles: marshal federal resources for combating wildlife trafficking; use resources strategically; improve the quality of available information; consider all links of the illegal trade chain; and strengthen relationships and partnerships.

The original strategy outlined three strategic priorities for U.S. actions to combat poaching: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade. Download the full strategy here: http://1.usa.gov/1m4fsZx

As the chair of the Subcommittee on African Affairs, Senator Coons co-chaired a joint hearing in May on wildlife trafficking with Senator Ben Cardin, chair of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The hearing examined the far-reaching ecological, economic, and national security threats tied to intensified illegal global trafficking of elephant ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products.

Senator Coons was also among a group of bipartisan leaders from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee who sent a letter to the chairs of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking in December 2013 urging the development of a strong national strategy and the full use of available government resources to comprehensively combat poaching.

Their letter can be downloaded as a PDF here: http://1.usa.gov/1bdssQZ