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house Bill H.R. 97

RAWR Act: Should the State Department Offer Rewards to Combat Global Wildlife Trafficking?

Argument in favor

Cash rewards for whistleblowers are an effective tool for fighting wildlife trafficking. Explicitly allowing the State Department to give rewards in exchange for information that helps fight these crimes will help improve detection and deterrence of these crimes.

Sandra's Opinion
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02/16/2019
Anything that will help stop the decimation of our wildlife ..this appear to be a good step....We have got to stop killing our planet.
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Chickie's Opinion
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02/16/2019
Please, yes. If we band together we can make a difference. For instance, China announced it was going to lift the ban on the trade of tiger bones and rhinoceros horns. After a huge outcry and protests from environmental groups, China postponed their decision. Currently, hunters, poachers, and trophy hunters are murdering majestic beasts and other wildlife. The aggressive upswing of poaching rhinoceros and elephant tusks, the decimation of the tiger population, the murder of sharks by cutting off their fins, allowing them to float to the bottom of the ocean to die, the brutality of hacking off ape hands, sadly, the list goes on. We, as humans, have been charged with care of wildlife. If we do nothing, many species will fade to the memory of extinction.
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Sam's Opinion
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02/16/2019
Wildlife is important to an overarching ecosystem. Helping to protect animals against poaching is the very least we can do. I want my children to live in a world where these animals are not just legends.
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Argument opposed

The State Department already has the authority to offer rewards in exchange for tips that deter international crime, which covers wildlife trafficking. Additionally, it’s not clear that State is the best federal agency to combat wildlife trafficking.

OlderNWiser's Opinion
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02/16/2019
I am in total agreement with protecting wildlife, but with rewards laws and whistleblower laws already in effect, it is a suspicious duplication by a Florida Republican. The Republican Party allows a corrupt, demented demagogue free reign to destroy our checks and balances and brutally deprive the 98% of protections or a chance at a decent life, making me suspicious of any Republican legislation. I worry this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
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Mark's Opinion
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02/16/2019
Stop spending money we don’t have on idiotic things such as this. Just another swamp bill to make it look as if Congress is of value. It isn’t now nor has it been for two generations.
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IllWill's Opinion
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02/16/2019
This legislation is pointless given that the State Department already offers rewards for information regarding these kinds of crimes. The government should not be duplicating its efforts.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 97?

This bill — the Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act of 2019 — would authorize rewards for thwarting wildlife trafficking linked to transnational organized crime. The State Department — which already offers rewards in exchange for information that helps deter transnational organized crime — would now be able to offer cash rewards in exchange for information about wildlife trafficking, such as poaching and illegal trade in wildlife.

Impact

Wildlife traffickers; whistleblowers; and the State Department.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 97

The CBO has no basis for estimating the cost of this legislation, as it can't project the additional amounts of rewards that the State Dept. might award under this authority.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to allow the State Department to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest of conviction of wildlife traffickers around the globe.

In the 115th Congress, Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-NY) introduced this bill to expand the State Department’s ability to offer cash rewards for information that helps combat international wildlife trafficking. Scott Hajost, Managing Director of the Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program at the national Whistleblower Center in Washington, D.C., calls cash rewards for whistleblowers a critical part of the enforcement regime against wildlife trafficking:

“At its core, wildlife trafficking is a business. Whistleblowers have been incredibly effective in cracking down on financial and corporate crimes. It is time we apply this methodology to the wildlife sphere... [Rewards for whistleblowers] provide a monetary incentive to report illicit activity. By empowering whistleblowers, we can change the calculus of participating in wildlife crime. If we make reporting crime more lucrative than participating in it, there will be a sea change in how the wildlife crime industry operates… Leveraging whistleblower reward laws is about dismantling the wildlife crime system by holding the most powerful players accountable.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), while in agreement that offering financial rewards to combat illegal wildlife trafficking is effective and merits expansion, disagrees with the position that the State Department should pay and administer such rewards. Instead, the GAO suggested in an April 2018 report that the Departments of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) should pay rewards for information on wildlife trafficking. The GAO points out that from FY 2007-2017, the agencies collectively reported paying only 27 rewards at a collective total of $205,500 — which could be significantly improved through better administration, better information communication to the public on financial rewards, and stronger internal review of each agency’s use of financial rewards.

The GAO’s WatchBlog also notes that rewards also have some disadvantages as a law enforcement tactic, as they may elicit false or unproductive leads; affect witness credibility, which may become a challenge at trial because sources were compensated for their information; and consume resources, as a flood of tips motivated by a reward requires effort for follow-up or corroboration.

In the current Congress, this bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). Last Congress, this legislation passed the House by a voice vote with the support of six cosponsors, including one Republican and five Democrats.


Of Note: The State Department currently has a rewards program that uses appropriated funds to offer cash awards to deter transnational organized crime. This rewards program is currently offering a reward of up to $1 million for information that could lead to the dismantling of the Xaysavang Network, a Laos-based international wildlife trafficking syndicate that’s been linked to the slaughter of rhinos and elephants in South Africa and Mozambique to trade their horns and tusks in China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It should be noted that the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, which was signed into law on January 2013, enables the Secretary of State to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest, conviction, or identification of significant members of transnational criminal organizations who operate primarily outside the U.S. The law also allows for rewards for information that dismantles such organizations or leads to the disruption of their financial mechanisms. Additionally, multiple laws, such as the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act, authorize the FWS and NOAA to pay rewards for information on wildlife trafficking.

There are already two U.S. whistleblower reward laws with international jurisdiction that can be used to combat wildlife crime: the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The FCA is the federal government’s primary litigation tool against those who defraud the government. It penalizes customs fraud, and has been successful in cracking down on crime in the non-wildlife context. Illicit wildlife products are frequently smuggled through ports – by air, land, and sea – and are able to pass through customs based on falsified documents. Evidence of these falsified documents would provide a strong basis for an FCA case, and would allow the whistleblower reward provision to apply. The FCA is a powerful tool for halting wildlife crime because there’s a clearly delineated evidentiary threshold for litigation, and non-U.S. citizens and NGOs are eligible for whistleblower rewards under the FCA.

The FCPA, which prohibits publicly-traded corporations, both U.S. and international, from paying bribes to foreign officials and mandates financial record-keeping, can also be used to litigate wildlife crime cases that occur outside the U.S. In the wildlife crime context, if an individual has evidence of inaccurate financial record keeping that covers up wildlife trafficking, or papers that show the wiring of funds to pay for illegal wildlife products, there may be grounds for an FCPA case so long as the company involved is under its jurisdiction.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Robert_Ford)

AKA

Rescuing Animals With Rewards Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to authorize rewards for thwarting wildlife trafficking linked to transnational organized crime, and for other purposes.

    Anything that will help stop the decimation of our wildlife ..this appear to be a good step....We have got to stop killing our planet.
    Like (83)
    Follow
    Share
    I am in total agreement with protecting wildlife, but with rewards laws and whistleblower laws already in effect, it is a suspicious duplication by a Florida Republican. The Republican Party allows a corrupt, demented demagogue free reign to destroy our checks and balances and brutally deprive the 98% of protections or a chance at a decent life, making me suspicious of any Republican legislation. I worry this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    Like (54)
    Follow
    Share
    Please, yes. If we band together we can make a difference. For instance, China announced it was going to lift the ban on the trade of tiger bones and rhinoceros horns. After a huge outcry and protests from environmental groups, China postponed their decision. Currently, hunters, poachers, and trophy hunters are murdering majestic beasts and other wildlife. The aggressive upswing of poaching rhinoceros and elephant tusks, the decimation of the tiger population, the murder of sharks by cutting off their fins, allowing them to float to the bottom of the ocean to die, the brutality of hacking off ape hands, sadly, the list goes on. We, as humans, have been charged with care of wildlife. If we do nothing, many species will fade to the memory of extinction.
    Like (37)
    Follow
    Share
    Stop spending money we don’t have on idiotic things such as this. Just another swamp bill to make it look as if Congress is of value. It isn’t now nor has it been for two generations.
    Like (34)
    Follow
    Share
    Wildlife is important to an overarching ecosystem. Helping to protect animals against poaching is the very least we can do. I want my children to live in a world where these animals are not just legends.
    Like (33)
    Follow
    Share
    This legislation is pointless given that the State Department already offers rewards for information regarding these kinds of crimes. The government should not be duplicating its efforts.
    Like (23)
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    Share
    Yes, please. Sometimes, it is worth doubling the cheese cloth and providing an extra layer of protection. Additionally, could you, please, reinstate the ban on elephants trophies? And, before the bears wake up, could you please put a stop the bear bating with bacon and doughnuts. I mean could you resist doughnuts and bacon after sleeping the winter? PS If you are wondering why a “Republican” would propose this legislation. It is to test whether or not you will take the ethical high road, or provide them with ammunition come 2020. 🤷🏼‍♀️Or maybe he just likes wild cats, he is from the back woods of Florida.
    Like (21)
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    If we don’t use every possible tool to combat these inhumane behaviors we will lose these magnificent animals. That would be a sin.
    Like (17)
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    We must do everything we can to save the animals - especially endangered species. We are interrelated with all creatures, insects, plants, somewhere along the line. WE MUST STOP THIS SLAUGHTERING. A resounding YES!
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    👍🏻👍🏻 “Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act of 2018” 👍🏻👍🏻 I’m in full agreement with and recommend the passage of this bill — known as the “Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act of 2018”— would authorize rewards for thwarting wildlife trafficking linked to transnational organized crime. The State Department — which already offers rewards in exchange for information that helps deter transnational organized crime — would now be able to offer cash rewards in exchange for information about wildlife trafficking, such as poaching and illegal trade in wildlife. Cash rewards for whistleblowers are an effective tool for fighting wildlife trafficking. Explicitly allowing the State Department to give rewards in exchange for information that helps fight these crimes will help improve detection and deterrence of these crimes. SneakyPete......... 👍🏻🦓🦍🐘🦛🦏👍🏻. 😎 2*16*19..........
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    Poachers need to be eradicated.
    Like (12)
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    Tree of Life, Circle of Life, whatever you want to call it; the removal of a species, any species, creates ripples that we have yet to fully understand. Any species that has been eradicated by mankind are even larger ripples. Yes, do whatever you can to STOP the removal of a species by man. The idea of a planet devoid of elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, and many other species is an anathema to me!
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    I don't see a purpose for this bill. The State Department already has the authority to do this. If they need money, that is an appropriations activity, not a legislative one.
    Like (9)
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    These animals contribute to the balance of life and are sentient beings. To hunt and kill them are acts of murder.
    Like (8)
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    As admirable as this bill seems and I agree with its objectives, it appears to be a significant duplication of existing efforts. If there are problems with overlap in existing programs, amend THIS bill to dovetail all existing reward programs and streamline or clarify responsibilities so all the reward programs work more efficiently.
    Like (7)
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    HR-97 is good step in providing cash rewards for whistleblowers are an effective tool for fighting wildlife trafficking. Explicitly allowing the State Department to give rewards in exchange for information that helps fight these crimes will help improve detection and deterrence of these crimes. However, this bill Must also require a mandatory Staffing of competent qualified State Department officials to the currently dramatically understaffed Department of State❗
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    I’m not sure about the reward part of it but as I am a Conservation minded man like good friend and hero Teddy Roosevelt! The original species of of North America should be maintained and preserved as an invasive species such as that, that is brought in from other parts of the world must be scrutinized to the fullest! The biggest shame is that someone recklessly let loose Burmese Pythons in to the Everglades Ecosystem and the are creating havoc and hell! Catch those people and give them Long terms in prison! These species must not be in our country! And as far as bugs being brought in to take care of other bugs? The Chinese Beetle which looks like a Lady Bug was not the answer! Our Great Lakes were seriously damaged by Zebra Muscles that live on algae that home species eat! Great Lakes Chubs that we would catch and smoke were great and abundant 30 years ago! Also lamprey! I’m not a whacked out environmentalist but a conservation minded man like I said! As for people importing animals for pets then deciding they don’t like that pet and releasing it into this environment! Prosecute them with strict punishment!
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    I think that’s absolutely great idea and make the penalties so high that it funds the whole service. I also think they should make it retroactive in drag in that idiot Ted Nugent. They may also want to investigate if any endangered species were harmed in building that thing that’s on Donald Trump’s head. That couldn’t possibly be any kind of human hair. I think there should be a full investigation into exactly what it is and where he got it.
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    The argument against this bill is simply that the state department already has the ability to offer rewards. So, my question is, what's the harm in making it more official to offer the incentive to stop these crimes? The State Department is responsible for foreign matters, including trafficking. Each individual State should not be solely responsible for what comes into it's borders, or the weakest states will be the entry points for these crimes against nature. And these weaker States will likely see disruption and ruin of the local ecosystem, as we've seen in such areas like the Everglades with invasive species.
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    Whatever it takes to protect the worlds vulnerable animals from the Awful Jaws of humankind
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