Wildlife protection and conservation has never been more important

Protection of our wildlife and conservation of our public lands has always been one of SEEC’s top priorities. Every year, our members call for increased funding for programs that support habitat conservation in the U.S. and abroad. And we’ve been active in holding the Trump Administration accountable. 

We’ve fought Trump Administration efforts to sell off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would further endanger polar bear and caribou habitats, and we pushed back when his budget tried to cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by 97%. We’ve also fought to restore legal protections for migratory birds after the Trump Administration overruled nearly 100 years of precedent in 2017 and declared that companies and industries could kill birds as a part of doing business, with no requirement to change their behavior or use best practices.

But now our fight for conservation and wildlife protection takes on an added significance as we learn more about the connection between wildlife and zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. A zoonotic disease is a disease spread between animals and people, and it can often be traced back to close contact between wildlife and humans. Research shows that 60-75% of emerging infectious diseases – like COVID-19 – are zoonotic. Other recent examples include SARS, Ebola and the Avian Flu.

And while this has been common throughout human history, there’s concern that habitat destruction is accelerating the process. Ecosystem destruction and warming temperatures are driving many animals outside their natural habitats and toward cities, where more humans live than ever. From there, more opportunities arise for animal-based pathogens to evolve for human contraction. 

Worse still, are inhumane wildlife trades and wet markets that put live and dead animals in close proximity with each other and human vendors and shoppers. This is not only cruel to the animals themselves – but also a threat to public health.

In an effort to hamper wildlife trades, SEEC member Rep. Mike Quigley proposed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which ends the private ownership and abuse of big cats, including lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, and cougars. SEEC members will continue the fight in Congress to protect wildlife habitat and end destructive wildlife trades.

Thank you,