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 on the Senate floor on the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver (WILD) Act. The WILD Act is cosponsored by EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

The WILD Act will promote wildlife conservation, assist in the management of invasive species, and help protect endangered species. The bipartisan legislation will reauthorize government conservation programs. It will also establish prize competitions to prevent illegal poaching and trafficking, manage invasive species, promote conservation, and protect endangered wildlife. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Mr. President, I rise today to speak about bipartisan legislation that I have introduced to promote new innovative solutions to better manage invasive species, to conserve wildlife, and to limit illegal poaching.

“I will tell you, Mr. President, I introduced this in a bipartisan way, as the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Senator Tom Carper, who is the ranking member of that committee, and along with Senator Jim Inhofe, who is a former chairman of that committee. 

“This legislation is called the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver Act, WILD for short.

“I am a supporter of both conserving wildlife and technological innovation that we have before us.

“My home state of Wyoming truly is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

“The people of Wyoming have an incredible appreciation for our wildlife.

“We applaud the efforts of innovators to help us conserve and manage species much more effectively and at a lower cost.

“Our state wildlife managers grapple with many challenges that innovators can help us solve. 

“For example, poaching is a major issue in Wyoming.

“Hundreds of animals are taken illegally each year in the state, that is what I hear from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Poaching is a problem across the country, it is not just the case in Wyoming, and has become a pandemic overseas.

“International poachers seeking to cash in on the ivory trade, have reduced the population of African Elephants by 75 percent, over the last ten years.

“It’s tragic.

“Invasive species also present a threat to native wildlife, to water resources, and to our landscape.

“Invasive species clog pipes and fuel catastrophic fires.

“In fact, invasive species have a role in 42 percent of the listings under the Endangered Species Act.

“That is invasive species causing other species to become endangered.

“We need creative solutions to these threats to our wildlife.

“Our nation’s innovators are developing cutting-edge technologies to help us more effectively fight poaching, manage wildlife, and control invasive species.

“A 2015 National Geographic article outlined a number of innovative technologies being used to promote conservation of many of the world’s most endangered species, that includes: DNA analysis to identify the origin of illicit ivory supplies; using thermal imaging around protected areas to notify authorities of poachers; and using mobile apps to assist wildlife law enforcement in carrying out their duties.

“In December, the National Invasive Species Council co-hosted a summit which highlighted innovations that combat invasive species.

“A couple of examples included: a fish passage that automatically extracts invasive fish from streams; DNA technologies to provide early detection of invasive species; and the use of drones to gain spatially accurate, high-resolution images that could be used to detect and monitor specific invasive species.

“Innovations like these are why we’ve introduced in a bipartisan way the WILD Act.

“The WILD Act provides technological and financial assistance to private landowners to improve fish and wildlife habitats.

“The legislation does these by reauthorizing the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

“The Wild Act requires federal agencies to implement strategic programs to control invasive species.

“It also reauthorizes important laws to protect endangered and valuable species around the world like the African Elephant; the Asian Elephant; the rhinoceros, the tiger; the great ape; and the marine turtle.

“Finally, the WILD Act creates incentives for new conservation innovation.

“The legislation establishes four separate cash prizes for technological innovation in: the prevention of wildlife poaching and trafficking; in the promotion of wildlife conservation; in the management of invasive species; and in the protection of endangered species.

“The Department of the Interior will administer the prizes and a panel of relevant experts will award each prize.

“Innovation is one of the best tools in conserving endangered species and keeping invasive species under control.

“The WILD Act will help stimulate that innovation.

“I want to thank Senator Carper and Senator Inhofe for cosponsoring this important legislation.”