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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

A Coordinated Federal Approach to Combating Wildlife Trafficking

Elephant
We live in a world with elephants. Will our children? Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz/USFWS


By Dan Ashe, John Cruden and Catherine Novelli

“Did you ever get to see an elephant in the wild before they became extinct?”  This is a question children may soon be asking unless we take immediate action.  Wildlife trafficking – not just of elephants, but also of rhinos, tigers, great apes, exotic birds and many other species – has exploded in recent years to become a multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise with increasingly grave and potentially irreversible consequences.  The scourge of wildlife trafficking threatens conservation efforts, national security, the rule of law, regional stability and the sustainable livelihoods of communities.  So what are we doing to stop this problem?    

Today, the United States launched an implementation plan for the President’s National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, which will be a roadmap to fighting poaching and illegal wildlife trade.  The plan focuses on three key areas:  strengthening law enforcement domestically and globally, reducing demand, and building international cooperation.  Wildlife trafficking is a global problem that demands a global solution.  We are determined to be a part of that solution, and we will continue to work closely in our efforts with foreign governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, community leaders, and civil society to achieve this goal. 

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President Obama Deserves Our Thanks for Supporting Arctic Wilderness

ANWR
A pond and river valley within the Brooks Range show just a bit of the refuge's diversity. Photo Credit: USFWS

Former-director and dear-friend, Mollie Beattie, said, “What a country chooses to save, is what a country chooses to say about itself.” This week, when President Obama announced his intention to follow the recommendations of his U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and support wilderness, and wild and scenic designation for over 12 million acres and four rivers within Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he was choosing to say something important about America.

Only Congress can confer wilderness or wild and scenic status, and now a President is asking them to do just that.  It may be a long effort.  But this week, we begin.  And in the meantime, we will continue to manage this spectacular refuge to protect its wildness, spanning five distinct ecological regions – lagoons, beaches, salt marshes, tundra and forests that are home to more than 200 species of birds, 37 land mammal species, eight marine mammal species and 42 species of fish.

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It’s More than A Duck Stamp. It’s a Champion for Conservation

Duck Stamp
The President just signed legislation increasing the price of the Duck Stamp.

It’s sometimes easy to lose hope these days, given the challenges our nation faces and the seemingly intractable political polarization of our society. But President Obama’s approval today of bipartisan legislation raising the price of the Federal Duck Stamp is a reminder that we’re still capable of great things as a nation.

MORE INFORMATION
What FWS partners are saying about the signing of the Duck Stamp Act of 2014

The Federal Duck Stamp program is one of the most successful conservation initiatives in history. Since the program’s creation in 1934, funding from duck stamp sales has been used to acquire and permanently protect more than 6 million acres of vital National Wildlife Refuge System habitat. Much of this wetland and grassland acreage – which supports hundreds of native species of migratory birds, animals and plants – would otherwise have been plowed under or paved over.

Rising land prices have steadily eroded our ability to protect other vulnerable habitat through acquisitions and the purchase of conservation easements on private land. Raising the price of the stamp from $15 to $25 will restore most of the purchasing power that has been lost since the price was last increased in 1991. With the additional funds generated by the increase, we anticipate being able to protect an estimated 17,000 additional acres of habitat every year.

This will also benefit Americans of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of where they live.

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