July 08, 2016

Senator Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Protect New York's Natural Resources, Prevent Invasive Species From Entering The United States

Gillibrand’s Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act would allow federal wildlife officials the ability to block importation of species that pose an imminent threat

West Babylon, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today announced the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act, legislation to protect New York’s natural resources from the threat of invasive species. This legislation would prevent potentially harmful species from being imported into the country and across state lines.

“The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act would give federal wildlife officials new tools to keep out invasive species that pose an imminent threat to Long Island,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “In recent years, we’ve seen many cases of invasive species from other countries – dangerous animals that aren’t meant to live in our ecosystems here – being introduced into bodies of water and trees around our state, including many resources here on Long Island. We need to do more to prevent harmful species of animals from coming here from overseas and harming our ecosystems, and this bill would finally let us begin to address this problem.”

“The Nature Conservancy is grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on combating invasive species, which are a serious threat to New York’s lands, waters, public health and economy. Senator Gillibrand’s proposal enables government agencies to more effectively act in advance of harmful species entering the country, and will add a significant measure of protection to our forests, bays, lakes, and farms from harmful invasive animals that, once introduced, put at risk the resources we depend on to support industries including fishing, tourism, agriculture, forestry and boating,” said Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York.

Currently, more than 200 species are listed as “injurious” to natural resources in the United States. Once a species is listed as injurious, it cannot be imported into the United States or its territories or possessions, or through interstate commerce, without a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit. Under the current system, injurious designations happen after a species has already been introduced to the United States and is established in the ecosystem.

Senator Gillibrand’s legislation, which will be introduced in the Senate this month, gives the United States Fish and Wildlife Service greater authority to regulate nonnative species and prohibit them from being imported or sold in the United States. The scope of “Injurious Wildlife Taxon or Taxa” would include all wildlife, including all invertebrates. It would also establish an injurious species listing process based on risk to natural resources, and would provide the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with temporary authority to make emergency designations for wildlife that pose an imminent threat.