45-Day Public Comment Period Opens for CoP17 Agenda; Public Meeting Set for July 19
June 23, 2016 - The Service has published a Federal Register notice announcing the provisional agenda for CoP17 and soliciting comments on the items on the provisional agenda. We will consider written information and comments received by August 8, 2016. We will also hold a public meeting on July 19, 2016, at 1:00PM in the South Interior Building Auditorium at 1951 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC. A livestream of the meeting will be available on our CITES CoP17 webpage. For more information on how to submit comments, please refer to the Federal Register notice.
Administration Completes Near-Total Ivory Ban to Protect African Elephants
June 2, 2016: In a significant move to protect one of the world's most cherished species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today completed a near-total ban on the domestic commercial trade of African elephant ivory by issuing a final rule under the Endangered Species Act. The final rule prohibits most commerce in ivory but makes specific, limited exceptions for certain pre-existing manufactured items such as musical instruments, furniture pieces and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory and meet other specific criteria. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, June 6, 2016 and will be effective after 30 days on July 6, 2016. Read the news release and Q&A for more information.
U.S. Announces CITES Protections for Four Native Freshwater Turtles
May 23, 2016: The Service today celebrates World Turtle Day by announcing a final rule to protect four species of native freshwater turtles under Appendix III of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The listing of the common snapping, Florida softshell, smooth softshell and spiny softshell turtles under CITES will require exporters to obtain a permit before shipping turtles overseas, helping the United States to ensure trade is legal. The listing will become effective after 180 days on November 21, 2016. Read the news release, FAQs and the freshwater turtles permits webpage for more information.
U.S. to Fight for Pangolins, African Grey Parrots, Nautilus, and more at CITES
April 28, 2016: The United States has released a list of proposals it will submit or co-sponsor at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) this fall. Proposals gaining support include ones that would halt commercial trade in pangolins and wild African grey parrots, and others to regulate the trade in nautilus and softshell turtles. The U.S. is also calling for the closing of domestic ivory markets and increased focus on reducing consumer demand for illegal wildlife products. In the coming months, we will continue to engage the public as we evaluate documents submitted by other countries and develop negotiating positions on the full agenda of CoP17. Check out our blog for a summary of the U.S. supported proposals, or visit our webpage to download the full text of each document.
[Videos] Voice of America Does Stories on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grant Projects in Guatemala
April 27, 2016: Voz de América (Voice of America) recently did a series of video segments about projects in Guatemala funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Central America Program. We've embedded the videos onto one page and have also included descriptions for each of the projects that are featured.
Service Strengthens Protections for Captive Tigers under the Endangered Species Act
April 5, 2016: In an effort to strengthen protections for certain captive tigers under the Endangered Species Act, the Service has finalized a rule declaring that anyone selling tigers across state lines must now first obtain an interstate commerce permit or register under the Captive-bred Wildlife Registration program. “Removing the loophole that enabled some tigers to be sold for purposes that do not benefit tigers in the wild will strengthen protections for these magnificent creatures and help reduce the trade in tigers that is so detrimental to wild populations,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “This will be a positive driver for tiger conservation.” Read the press release and FAQs for more information.
Public Meeting of the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking Scheduled for April 15, 2016
March 30, 2016: The Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking has announced its next meeting for Friday, April 15, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Members of this non-government advisory body represent the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and others who are in a position to provide expertise and support to federal agencies working to combat wildlife trafficking. To attend the meeting in person, you must register by close of business on April 8, 2016. For more information on participating in the meeting, or submitting questions or comments, please refer to the Federal Register notice.
Nomenclature Change for Madagascar Palms
March 29, 2016: In preparation for the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17), to be held in South Johannesburg, Africa (24 September-05 October 2016), we have posted information on the proposed changes to the scientific names of two species of palms that are native to Madagascar: the butterfly palm and the triangle palm. The botanical names for these species changed nearly twenty years ago and are now scientifically accepted and widely used in cultivation and trade. In accordance with CITES Resolution Conf. 12.11 (Rev. CoP16), this information is being posted in order to make it available to CITES Parties 150 days prior to the meeting. Read more
Eighteen West and Central African Countries Unite in the Fight Against Illegal Wildlife Trade
March 17, 2016: Over the last two days, 18 West and Central African countries met in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss their joint commitment to fight against wildlife trafficking that threatens the conservation of biodiversity in Africa. The workshop, which was organized by the government of Senegal, culminated in the adoption of jointly agreed initiatives for the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to CITES. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proudly supported this workshop and applauds the leadership of these African nations to coordinate wildlife enforcement efforts and tackle illicit wildlife trade. Read more in this press release from the Government of Senegal.
Celebrating Conservation in Central America
March 7, 2016: This week we are excited to feature a series of articles about some of the most important landscapes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect in Central America, that are home to an incredibly biodiverse array of wildlife. As part of “Central America Week,” we invite you to learn more about our cornerstone strategy with Wildlife Conservation Society to protect Central America’s five largest remaining wild places. We will also be spotlighting some of the charismatic species that live in these critical habitats. Read more.
Service and JetBlue Forge New Partnership to Reduce Demand for Illegal Wildlife Trade
March 3, 2016: JetBlue and the Service today revealed a five-year partnership agreement to encourage and empower travelers to play a role in protecting the beauty and wildlife of one of the world’s most popular destinations: the Caribbean. The partnership will involve a traveler education and awareness campaign, including an in-flight video plus web and social media content designed to reduce demand for illegal wildlife. Wildlife trafficking in the area is contributing to the decline and potential extinction of animal species such as sea turtles, parrots, iguanas and coral. Read more.
Wildlife Trafficking Task Force Releases First Annual Progress Report
March 3, 2016: The Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking released its first annual Progress Assessment today, World Wildlife Day. The report details accomplishments of the Task Force in implementing the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking in its first year, as well as future efforts in the fight against this illegal trade. President Obama created the Task Force in 2013, bringing together 17 federal departments and offices in a whole-of-government approach to halt illegal activities that threaten the survival of elephants, rhinos, and other iconic species. Read the report.
Notice of Funding Opportunity: Combating Wildlife Trafficking
February 22, 2016: On February 11, 2014, President Obama issued the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. Incorporating recommendations from the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, the Implementation Plan was released on February 11, 2015 to guide and direct the efforts of Federal agencies in executing the Strategy.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is identified as a lead or participating agency in all 24 Implementation Plan Objectives, reflecting the commitment and history of USFWS International Affairs and Office of Law Enforcement in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. To complement and facilitate existing efforts, USFWS has developed a Notice of Funding Opportunity to provide financial assistance to projects that advance counter-wildlife trafficking activities (wildlife defined to include terrestrial and aquatic species and timber) as outlined in the Next Steps of the National Strategy’s Implementation Plan. Read more.
Stamping Out Extinction Public Lecture at Smithsonian’s National Zoo
February 21, 2016: The National Zoo and National Postal Museum are teaming up with U.S. Fish and Wildlife for a free public lecture on Thursday, March 3, World Wildlife Day. The lecture features Nancy Stahl and Bryan Arroyo. Attendees will learn about the process behind the creation of a semi-postal stamp and how funds from selling the stamp have contributed to saving species worldwide. A stamp signing will take place before the event at 5:30 p.m. in the Zoo’s Visitor Center lobby. Stamp sheets will be available for purchase, and any donations will support the National Zoo’s conservation efforts. Parking is free for lecture attendees. Read more.
Happy World Pangolin Day
February 20, 2016: This World Pangolin Day, we wanted to share with you five amazing things about pangolins you may not have known. We’re also excited to share that we are working with a group of highly committed and enthusiastic conservationists to champion the conservation of pangolins in Central Africa: The MENTOR-POP (Progress on Pangolins) Fellowship program, a collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Read more.
Securing the Future of Elephants in Sri Lanka
February 5, 2016: Last week, giant green stone crushers crunched and pulverized contraband ivory at a high-profile public awareness event set in the capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo. Beyond political and symbolic actions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also helped support Sri Lanka's elephants through the Udawalawe Elephant Research Project. It is the longest-running research effort for Asian elephants and provides an in-depth understanding of the status and health of the elephant population and the effects different mortality rates can have on future generations. The project provides vital insight for the design and application of evidence-based conservation in Sri Lanka and the world. Read more.
Sri Lanka Becomes First South Asian Nation to Destroy Ivory Stockpile
January 29, 2016: Earlier this week, Sri Lanka crushed and burned 359 tusks, approximately 1.5 metric tons of ivory, in a public awareness event in Colombo. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service applauds this action, which demonstrates Sri Lanka’s strong stance against the illegal killing of elephants and adds their nation to a growing international movement to combat wildlife trafficking. Read more.
Federal Register Notice: Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Swaziland Elephants
January 21, 2016:The Service has published a Federal Register notice making available the final environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) for a permit application submitted by the Dallas Zoo to import up to 18 elephants from Swaziland to the United States. The Service has determined that the proposed import meets regulatory requirements under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service therefore has approved the permit request. Please refer to the Federal Register notice and the Q&A for more information.
U.S., China Share Best Practices for Wetlands Management
January 13, 2016: Because of China’s large population, it faces many challenges for managing its water resources to restore natural habitats and mitigate damages from floods and landslides. So last month, we hosted a group of Chinese wetlands officials touring protected areas in southern Florida. The goal for this trip was to learn about wetlands restoration, monitoring and management in the United States and provide new ideas for the Chinese on how to manage wetlands in their home country.
ESA Listing Protects Lions in Africa and India, Director’s Order Strengthens Wildlife Import Restrictions for Wildlife Law Violators
December 21, 2015: In response to the dramatic decline of lion populations in the wild, the Service today announced it will list two lion subspecies under the Endangered Species Act. Panthera leo leo, located in India and western and central Africa, will be listed as endangered, and Panthera leo melanochaita, located in eastern and southern Africa, will be listed as threatened. Lion populations have declined by 43 percent due to habitat loss, loss of prey base, and retaliatory killing of lions by humans. Director Dan Ashe also issued a Director’s Order to ensure violators of wildlife laws are not subsequently granted permits for future wildlife-related activities, including the import of sport-hunted trophies. Learn more.
Costa Rica and U.S. Strengthen Conservation Partnership
December 15, 2015: On November 11, the governments of Costa Rica and the United States signed a new agreement to further collaborate on important conservation initiatives throughout Costa Rica. The new agreement will help both countries further pool resources to protect Costa Rican national parks, reserves and other protected areas, as well as work together to conduct research, share expertise, cultivate local stewardship and champions, and collaborate with indigenous and forest communities. There is also an emphasis on teaming up to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. Read more.
Protecting Sea Turtles in Vietnam by Cultivating Local Stewards and Taking on Traffickers
December 4, 2015: In partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature – Vietnam (IUCN-Vietnam), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through our Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, is cultivating community backing and supporting a volunteer program to monitor and protect nesting green turtles in Vietnam’s Con Dao National Park, home of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches remaining in the country. Read more.
CITES CoP17: Open Public Comment Period
December 4, 2015: The Service has published a Federal Register notice requesting information on resolutions, decisions and agenda items being considered for submission to the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to CITES to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 24 – October 5, 2016. The notice will be open for public comment for 60 days. An extended version of this notice describes each recommended action, as well as those developed internally, and explains the rationale for United States' current thinking and tentative positions. The Service will review and consider all comments received on or before February 2, 2016 before making a final decision on any action. This notice also provides information on how non-governmental organizations based in the United States can attend CoP17 as observers. Please refer to the news release for more information.
Celebrating Manatee Awareness Month
November 24, 2015: Did you know that November is Manatee Awareness Month? These gentle, slow-moving marine mammals have endeared themselves to generations and long inspired tales of the sea. Early explorers of the ocean once mistook manatees for young women, fueling legends of mermaids. In several African countries, a manatee may be known as a “mamiwata” a name given to a spirit believed to be embodied by the manatee.
Through our International Affairs Africa Regional Program, we’re working to conserve African manatees, which inhabit 21 countries in Africa. Read more.
A Green Triangle of Hope in Fire-ravaged Indonesia
November 6, 2015: Fires are devastating Indonesia, threatening gibbons, orangutans, elephants and other wildlife, as well as people. The Global Fire Emissions Database reports that satellites have detected more than 117,000 active fires in 2015 through October 28. However, within the borders of Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park (WKNP), a small green triangle marks an area where successful fire prevention efforts have cleared smoke, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the devastation. Since 2008, we, through the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund, have supported forest patrols and other work in WKNP. Fire prevention efforts are among the many responsibilities of these patrol teams, and over the last several weeks, they have been on the front lines fighting fires. Read more.
Open Public Comment Period: Draft Environmental Assessment for Swaziland Elephants
October 22, 2015: The Service has published a Federal Register notice requesting feedback on a draft Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regarding a permit application from the Dallas Zoo (Dallas, TX), which requests authorization under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to import 18 live wild-captured elephants from Swaziland. The notice will be open for public comment until November 23, 2015. Please refer to the Federal Register for additional information and instructions on how to submit comments. A permit for the import of live elephants from Swaziland has not been issued.
Service Protects Two Rare Macaw Species
October 1, 2015: The Service today announced it is listing the military and great green macaws as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Both bird species are endemic to Central and South America. The agency found that both species are in decline, primarily due to habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, small population size, and poaching. Please refer to the news release and the Q&A for more information.
Celebrating the One-year Anniversary of the MESOAMERICA 2020 Partnership
September 21, 2015: Mesoamerica, which ranges from central Mexico down to the Panama Canal, contains less than one percent of the world's land surface, but is home to seven percent of our global biodiversity. Unfortunately, many of the species and ecosystems of Mesoamerica are under severe threat. In 2014, the Service together with the Organization of American States launched MESOAMERICA 2020 to partner with governments, non-governmental organizations and local communities in the region. Read about challenges and opportunities ahead in Director Dan Ashe's blog as the partnership celebrates its one-year anniversary.
Service Extends Period of Nominations for Members of Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking
September 10, 2015: In a Federal Register notice published today, the Service extended the nomination period for members of the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking until September 25, 2015. The Council advises and makes recommendations on issues related to combating wildlife trafficking, including improving anti-poaching and law enforcement efforts and reducing demand for illegal wildlife products in the U.S. For more information about the Advisory Council and the nominations process, click here.
CITES CoP17: Open Public Comment Period
August 26, 2015: The Service has published a Federal Register notice requesting feedback on certain species proposals under consideration for submission to the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to CITES to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 24 – October 5, 2016. The notice will be open for public comment for 60 days. An extended version of this notice describes each recommended action, as well as those developed internally, and explains the rationale for United States' current thinking about submission of species proposals for CoP17. The Service will review and consider all comments received by October 26, 2015 before publishing a final rule. Please refer to the news release and Q&A for more information.
Service Director Lauds United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking
August 03, 2015: Service Director Dan Ashe recently commended the United Nations General Assembly for adopting an important resolution on illegal wildlife trafficking. The resolution underscores the global commitment to the fight against the growing illegal wildlife trade and those who threaten the future of many of our planet’s species. Read the Director's Statement and the UN Resolution.
President Obama Announces Proposal to Tighten Controls on Domestic Ivory Trade
July 25, 2015: In response to a growing poaching crisis that is rapidly pushing populations of African elephants, rhinos and other species to the brink of extinction, President Obama today announced that the Service is proposing new regulations that will result in a near total ban on the domestic commercial trade of African elephant ivory. The proposed revisions to the African elephant rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would prohibit most interstate commerce (sales across state lines) in African elephant ivory and would further restrict commercial exports. The proposed rule includes limited exceptions for antiques, as defined under the ESA, and certain pre-existing manufactured items such as musical instruments that contain less than 200 grams of ivory. The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, July 29 and will be open for public comment for 60 days. The Service will review and consider all comments received by September 28, 2015 before publishing a final rule. Please refer to the news release and Q&A for more information.
Service to Continue to Deny Access to Imported Elephant Trophies from Tanzania
July 10, 2015: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it will continue to deny import of African elephant sport-hunted trophies taken from Tanzania into the United States in 2015. The Service’s decision is based on the current situation on the ground in Tanzania, including questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement, and weak governance, which have resulted in uncontrolled poaching and catastrophic population declines of African elephants.Please refer to the news bulletin and Q&A for additional information.
First Pangolin Range States Meeting Co-hosted by Vietnam and the United States
June 24-26, 2015: Delegates from African and Asian pangolin range countries joined together for the first time to develop a unified conservation action plan to protect pangolins at the First Pangolin Range States Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam. The governments of Vietnam and the United States co-hosted the meeting, which was organized and facilitated by Humane Society International. Learn more at the Humane Society International press release and the USFWS pangolin webpage.
U.S. to Destroy More than One Ton of Confiscated Ivory
June 18, 2015: On Friday, the Service, with wildlife and conservation partners, will publicly crush more than one ton of confiscated ivory in Times Square in downtown New York City. As with the first Ivory Crush in 2013, the event sends the message that the United States will not tolerate this illegal trade. The Crush will also educate people about the harm buying ivory can do and how they can help in the fight to save the elephants. Learn more.