IFAW STATEMENT ON ACTS OF VANDALISM AND THEFTS FROM ZOOS
Washington, DC – February 5, 2023 – Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, issued the following statement regarding the recent criminal incidents at the Dallas Zoo and Central Park Zoo:
“Regardless of the motivation behind these acts of vandalism and theft, the perpetrators of these crimes are acting illegally and irresponsibly. Exotic animals required highly specialized care and removing them from accredited zoos, particularly in harsh weather conditions, leaves them prone to starvation, distress, and even death. We condemn these illegal acts, and hope that law enforcement and the entire zoo community will put a quick and decisive stop to these troubling events.”
Policy work is the foundation for success
Envisioning efforts to save or rescue animals doesn’t usually conjure images of people in suits walking the halls of government. Yet, advocacy and policy work is foundational to IFAW’s success. Strong conservation policy provides the legal frameworks needed to prosecute wildlife traffickers, to protect species and their habitats from exploitation and destruction, and to ensure that funding is available to support rangers and others working on the front lines to protect our precious wildlife.
Wildlife laws, regulations and policies of the United States have far-reaching impacts for animals—domestically and around the world. We can no longer ignore the immediate and urgent need to address the issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem degradation that confront our nation and the broader global community.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has identified several priority actions Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration should take immediately to address these pressing challenges and advance the well-being of people and wildlife from sea to shining sea and around the world.
IFAW STATEMENT ON FY2023 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL AND NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE CONSERVATION
Washington, DC – December 20, 2022 – Danielle Kessler, US Director for IFAW, issued the following statement regarding the FY2023 Omnibus appropriations bill and North Atlantic right whale conservation:
“IFAW was closely involved in discussions with Congressional offices, Biden Administration representatives, and other NGOs regarding the North Atlantic right whale rider language offered by the Maine congressional delegation. While the final draft language does include a substantial amount of funding for innovative fishing gear research, promotion, and implementation, we remain deeply concerned with the outcome and the impact this misinformed policy will have on right whales and their recovery.
It should be expected that the Maine delegation would seek urgently to act on behalf of lobstermen in the state of Maine. Fishermen affected by existing regulations deserve sustainable solutions that protect their livelihoods. However, at the core of this provision is an unnecessary and unwise assault on the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, two landmark pieces of US wildlife law.
Action can and should be taken that addresses the needs and concerns of hardworking lobstermen and their families. While the omnibus offers funding for gear technology and innovation, it does not go far enough. Robust federal support and resources for on-demand fishing gear technology is desperately needed to offer fishermen and other coastal small business owners a lifeline -- the opportunity to continue making a living without killing right whales.
Suspending ongoing federal agency and court actions aimed to conserve the last 340 North Atlantic right whales will do nothing to change the situation confronting Maine fishermen and this critically endangered species. For this iconic species to be saved, fishermen must be engaged and supported to change the situation in the marine habitat they share.
With that goal in mind, IFAW will continue proudly to partner with the early adopter fishermen and technology companies pioneering and fishing with this technology in both the inshore and offshore fisheries. We invite interested fishermen, organizations, supporters, funders and elected and appointed officials to join us in this solutions-based approach. Congress can contribute to a world in which both the fishing industry and right whales thrive, but today’s action falls far short of that outcome.”
Strengthening bedrock conservation laws
IFAW is working to preserve and provide fresh thinking for federal laws that protect animals, habitat, and landscapes across the U.S. and abroad. Priorities include maintaining a strong Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Each of these laws — which benefit species including the North Atlantic right whale, bald eagle, Bengal tiger and African elephant, among others — have come under heavy assault in recent years. Despite their clear success, special interests consistently attack these long-standing biodiversity safeguards from all angles, seeking to undermine key provisions, weaken protections for various species, eliminate environmental review requirements, and disrupt the public’s ability to support enforcement. IFAW is partnering with conservation-minded members of Congress and relevant U.S. government departments and agencies to advance America’s domestic and international conservation agendas.
To learn more: One Act For All
US global leadership in conservation and animal welfare
United States leadership within the global community is a key driver in persuading other nations to protect endangered wildlife, combat poaching and trafficking, preserve habitats, and mitigate the crippling effects of climate change. Free trade agreements provide an opportunity for the U.S. to drive industry innovation and to extend strong environmental and animal welfare standards that promote fair trade. U.S.-supported conservation programs administered by the US Agency for International Development, the Department of State, and Department of Interior, protect and preserve more than natural ecosystems and wildlife. They are also critical to national security interests, economic prosperity, food security, and disaster resilience.
To learn more: Combating Wildlife Crime in the Malawi-Zambia Landscape
The Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Act protects imperiled species
Native wildlife is a fundamental contributor to the healthy ecosystems on which humanity depends for our own health and well-being. As wild species go extinct, ecosystems will suffer and may not be able to support our needs. It is therefore more important than ever to invest in protecting imperiled species, creating better outcomes for them as well as biodiversity for us all. Find out how you can take action to support the Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Act (CEACA).
Saving the North Atlantic right whale
Fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales remain in the world. The ancient migratory routes of this critically endangered great whale run right along the U.S. and Canada’s Atlantic coastline — one of the world’s most industrialized areas of ocean. Since 2017, a staggering 45 right whales have died or are presumed dead, representing more than 10 percent of the remaining population. Twelve right whales — that we know of — have died since the summer of 2019 alone. IFAW and our partners are pioneering new tools and technologies and technologies for fishermen, mariners and recreational boaters that protect coastal livelihoods while making the ocean safer. Leveraging industry know-how and ingenuity to eliminate lethal entanglements in fishing gear and avoid deadly strikes with high speed vessels leads to a more sustainable future for all. To drive change in and on the water, IFAW is educating elected and appointed decision makers and pursuing state and federal policies that fund the research, development, and implementation of state of the art solutions and smart regulations that protect North Atlantic right whales while also helping to maintain vital coastal economies.
To learn more: Saving the North Atlantic right whales
Take action: Tell NOAA that right whales can't wait
Protecting big cats and public safety
All across the country, untold numbers of tigers, lions, and other big cats are kept in makeshift cages and backyard menageries. IFAW works with partners across the U.S. to rescue big cats from these horrible situations and place them in qualified sanctuaries where they receive the care they need. Our team has a long history of working to spread awareness about the dangers of keeping big cats as “pets” and exploiting them as photo props. We work on federal and state policies to end the private ownership of dangerous wild cats in the U.S. and end the mistreatment of captive big cats nationwide. Thank your Senators for supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act which was signed into law by President Biden in December 2022.
To learn more: Big Cats in Captivity
IFAW APPLAUDS SENATE PASSAGE OF BIG CAT PUBLIC SAFETY ACT
Washington, DC – December 20, 2022 – – Carson Barylak, Campaigns Manager at IFAW, issued the following statement in response to the Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA), becoming law:
“The BCPSA’s enactment is an important victory for both captive wildlife and communities, and IFAW thanks the bill’s sponsors in both chambers. This much-needed federal measure will ensure that captive tigers, lions and other iconic felines are protected from coast to coast while also ensuring the safety of first responders and the public.”
This legislation effectively addresses a serious public safety issue and animal welfare crisis by bringing an end to the private ownership of “pet” big cats in the U.S. while also banning dangerous contact between big cats and the public.
Across the country, untold numbers of big cats are kept in appalling and unsafe conditions as “pets” and roadside novelties. With some states having few restrictions on the possession of dangerous big cats, the BCPSA provides a uniform federal solution that ends the cruel treatment of these iconic animals and the danger they pose to our communities.
Ending illegal wildlife trade
The U.S. is a source, transit point, and destination for illegally traded wildlife. Thousands of native turtles are illegally taken from the wild each year and shipped across the globe, often bound in tape or stuffed into socks to keep them from moving. Elephant ivory and trinkets made from endangered species, can be found in collectible and consignment stores. Rare species, sought after for the exotic pet trade, face inhumane and deplorable conditions in transport, with many dying on the journey. The internet facilitates a largely unregulated and relatively anonymous marketplace for illegal wildlife and wildlife products that’s open 24/7. IFAW works on federal and state policies to end the trade in elephant ivory and other imperiled species, strengthen protections for wildlife traded online, and ensure that law enforcement agencies have the capacity and resources to combat these heinous crimes.
To learn more: Preventing Wildlife Cybercrime
One health, one welfare
Our own behavior is causing many of the most pressing security and stability issues of the 21st century. These issues will only increase if we do not change our relationship with nature. At the root of emerging high impact socio-economic and public health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, lies the destruction of nature, which is causing increased contact and conflict between wildlife and humans. The COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last of its kind if we do not change the way we interact with our natural surroundings.
To learn more: COVID-19 response and recovery: recommendations for policy makers
help us end this crisis. make your voice heard.
Tell your members of Congress that you care about big cats and support H.R. 263.
sign to solve
Conserving and connecting wildlife habitat
Roads and water transit routes are critical to our own way of life — our mobility, our sense of perceived freedom. What many fail to realize is that these same transit routes also represent physical barriers that can be insurmountable for wildlife and dangerous for everyone. In addition, structures such as walls, fences, and dams immensely affect and impede migratory routes, cutting off food and water supplies, and otherwise disrupting important wildlife habitats. Not only can this lead to problems for wild animals, but to increased frustrations for their human neighbors.
To learn more: The path to success is actually a wildlife corridor
Coexisting with wildlife
Each year the U.S. government kills millions of animals via the use of deadly poisons, body-gripping traps, snares, and numerous inhumane tools including cyanide ejectors (M-44s), all the while ignoring science and avoiding accountability. IFAW’s coexistence campaign focuses on driving policy change at all levels of government, shifting the public’s perception of wildlife in human-dominated landscapes, and working with communities to develop solutions and legislation that change negative behaviors.
To learn more: Read about our campaign on coexisting with animals in a human-dominated world
ifaw statement on President Biden's 'skinny' budget proposal
Washington, DC – April 9, 2021 – Danielle Kessler, Acting US Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement regarding the Biden Administration’s ‘skinny’ budget:
“We feel a renewed sense of hope. The President’s budget request emphasizes the importance of conservation in the U.S. and abroad, proposing to increase funding for the Interior and Commerce Departments—agencies tasked with safeguarding endangered species and other wildlife—as well as climate change mitigation, environmental justice, and international development.
As the Biden Administration lays out measures to rebuild our country following the COVID-19 pandemic, we must seize this rare opportunity to take a holistic approach. Our nation needs an integrated ‘One Health’ strategy that incorporates wildlife and habitat conservation, climate mitigation and other measures to protect public health. These issues are inextricably linked, and ignoring even one comes at the peril of the others.
Continuing U.S. support for international conservation efforts will be important in preventing future pandemics, but a return to business as usual will not do. An effective long-term response to this global pandemic requires US leadership to conserve, protect and defend human rights, equities and economies as well as the ecosystems on which they depend. Let’s get to work.”
Contact for more information
Danielle Kessler, Acting Director, United States
Carson Barylak, Campaigns Manager-Policy
Mark Hofberg, Campaigns Officer-Policy
Kate Wall, Senior Legislative Manager
email@example.com for interviews
Helpful policy resources
2020 post-election statementread more
when humans are the cause, humans must be the solutionread more
the path to success is actually a wildlife corridorread more
the 21st century threat to wildlife is "cyberpoaching"Read more
a renewed bill takes aim at the illegal online wildlife traderead more
mobilizing Congress to save the right whaleread more
a wild year: a look back at the year in wildlife and trends to look out for in 2022Read more