Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize: Innovative Solutions to Reduce Human-Predator Conflict.”

The hearing featured testimony from Brad Hovinga, Jackson regional wildlife supervisor at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department; Forrest Galante, wildlife biologist and host at Animal Planet; and Nick Whitney, Ph.D., senior scientist and chair of Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium.

For more information on witness testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Earlier this year, Republicans and Democrats on this committee joined together to enact the WILD Act. It is the Wildlife Longevity and Innovation Driver Act.

“The law supports innovative efforts to conserve wildlife, to manage invasive species, and to protect some of the world’s rarest and most beloved animals.

“The WILD Act established the Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prizes to encourage technological innovation.

“These prizes annually award $100,000 to innovators who help solve our nation’s most difficult wildlife and invasive species challenges.

“The prizes were inspired by cutting-edge conservation innovations that are already in use, such as DNA analysis to identify the origin of illicit ivory supplies; thermal imaging to notify authorities of poachers; and a fish passage that automatically extracts invasive fish from systems.

“Today, we will consider S. 2194, the Promoting Resourceful and Effective Deterrents Against Threats Or Risks involving Species Act, also called the ‘PREDATORS Act.’

“The PREDATORS Act is a bill to establish a sixth Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize, which I’ve introduced along with Senators Carper, Cramer, and Booker.

“This bill would incentivize the development of non-lethal, innovative technologies that reduce conflict between human and wildlife predators.

“Although rare, human encounters with predators can lead to injury and even death.

“In Wyoming, the species most closely associated with this problem is the grizzly bear.

“Just last year, a hunting guide from Jackson Hole, was tragically killed by grizzlies.

“The two grizzlies responsible for the attack were euthanized.

“It is not just hunters that are at risk.

“In northwest Wyoming, Wapiti Elementary School near Cody had to build an eight-foot high heavy-gauge metal fence around its schoolyard to protect its students.

“Wyoming isn’t alone.

“It’s not alone when it comes to grappling with human-predator conflicts.

“Fatalities occur each year from sharks.

“In 2018, there were 66 shark attacks, including 32 in the U.S.

“A little over a week ago, a young girl boogie boarding in Florida suffered shark bites to her foot and ankle.

“Comparatively, she was lucky.

“In North Carolina, a girl lost a leg and two fingers while swimming this summer.

“An American woman was killed by a shark in the Bahamas around the same time.

“Bears and sharks are not the only predator species of concern.

“In Colorado, a runner’s encounter with a mountain lion on a trail left him injured and the animal dead.

“And tragically in Florida, a young child was killed at Disney World by an alligator.

“Our distinguished panel is going to help us to examine how the establishment of a new Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize can incentivize technological innovation to reduce future human-predator contact.

“Our witnesses include – Brad Hovinga, the Jackson regional wildlife supervisor at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. I will formally introduce him shortly.

“Forrest Galante, a biologist, wildlife tracker, and host on Animal Planet’s Extinct or Alive.

“And Dr. Nick Whitney, senior scientist for the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium.

“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about their experiences with human-predator conflicts and how innovative technologies can help reduce them.”