International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy [Updated May 19, 2008] [open pdf - 737KB]
This CRS report discusses the global trade in illegal wildlife and its implications for U.S. Policy. "International wildlife smuggling may be of interest to Congress as it presents several potential environmental and national security threats to the United States. Threats to the environment include the potential loss of biodiversity, introduction of invasive species into U.S. ecosystems, and transmission of disease through illegal wildlife trade, including through illegal bushmeat trade. National security threats include links between wildlife trafficking and organized crime and drug trafficking. Some terrorist groups may also be seeking to finance their activities through illegal wildlife trade, according to some experts. Wildlife source and transit countries may be especially prone to exploitation if known to have weak state capacity, poor law enforcement, corrupt governments, and porous borders. […] The role of Congress in evaluating U.S. policy to combat wildlife trafficking is broad. Potential issues for Congress include (1) determining funding levels for U.S. wildlife trade inspection and investigation; (2) evaluating the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid to combat wildlife trafficking; (3) developing ways to encourage private sector involvement in regulating the wildlife trade; (4) using trade sanctions to penalize foreign countries with weak enforcement of wildlife laws; (5) incorporating wildlife trade provisions into free trade agreements; and (6) addressing the domestic and international demand for illegal wildlife through public awareness campaigns and non-governmental organization partnerships. This report focuses on the international trade in terrestrial fauna, largely excluding trade in illegal plants, including timber, and fish." This report also includes one case study, two appendices, two figures and four tables.
CRS Report for Congress, RL34395