Honoring the US government’s bipartisan role in worldwide wildlife protection

A bipartisan bill was introduced this week to keep the “Tiger Stamp” program rolling. Tiger stamps provide a major source of revenue for international species conservation.World Wildlife Day is a celebration of the animals that call this planet home, but it’s also a reminder of our responsibility to those animals. And as an American citizen, one of the things I’m proudest of is how our country, so often, has come through for wildlife.

Over the last century the United States has earned a reputation for shaping trailblazing conservation policies, protecting pristine habitats here and abroad, and leading the way with scientific research that gives us a better window into the natural world.

It’s easy to feel lost in the maelstrom these days. Washington D.C. certainly feels bunkered, but even a quick look at the history of the environmental movement shows leadership on both sides of the aisle: Republican presidents established the first National Wildlife Refuge (Teddy Roosevelt) and signed the Endangered Species Act into law (Richard Nixon); Democratic presidents put their signatures on the National Parks Service (Woodrow Wilson) and the END Wildlife Trafficking Act (Barack Obama).

But none of these victories would have been possible without the parties working together. Indeed, nearly every major American environmental achievement has been a bipartisan success story.

IFAW helped stage an event this Wednesday on Capitol Hill to applaud these stories and urge lawmakers to remember this history. In partnership with our friends in the conservation community, we hosted around 200 congressional staff members, elected officials, and some distinguished guests from the federal agencies and embassies, for an evening all about wildlife.

The speakers—including the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce, and Democratic Representative Joyce Beatty—shared their own experiences of bringing our shared conservation ideals into practice. It was clear that although Washington can be a battleground, it can also be a place to work together.

The event closed with a video from IFAW’s Youth Forum for People and Wildlife tying into this year’s official World Wildlife Day theme, “Listen to the Young Voices.” The current decision-makers in the room trended toward gray hair, suits and ties, but they work in the Capitol to represent all of us – young, old, somewhere in between – and it was a message they need to hear, that the generation now coming of age is determined to leave the planet a better place than the one they inherited.

As Tarek Ben Youssef of the African Union mission told us from the podium, “Youth holds the key.” Looking around at the younger staffers who are already so enthusiastic about wildlife conservation, and knowing that some of them will one day be the leaders on the stage, made me feel confident that we can weather this storm, honor our history of working side-by-side, and fight together for wildlife.

You can help! A bipartisan bill was introduced this week to keep the “Tiger Stamp” program rolling. Tiger stamps provide a major source of revenue for international species conservation, at no cost to taxpayers, but the program needs to be re-authorized by Congress or this funding stream will dry up.

--PL

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Joseph Okori
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
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