July 18, 2016

Standing On The Shores Of Lake Erie, Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Protect New York's Natural Resources, Prevent Invasive Species From Entering United States

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

Buffalo, 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 Western New York,” 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 around our state and around Western New York. We need to do more to prevent harmful species from coming here from overseas and harming our ecosystems, and this bill would finally let us begin to address this problem.”

“Senator Gillibrand’s bill provides a proactive approach to the prevention of invasive species which serve as a dire threat to the health and future of our freshwater ecosystems,” said Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force.

“Invasive species of all types are insidious, uninvited guests that destroy native ecosystems and do significant damage to our economy,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “This legislation will be a tremendous aid to protecting our native natural resources and the health of our environment.”

“When it comes to invasive species, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We can either establish a thoughtful screening process to prevent harmful non-native species from being imported into the U.S., or we can spend billions of dollars to try and clean up the mess later,” said Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “We commend Senator Gillibrand for working proactively to prevent the next Asian carp from invading our Great Lakes.”

“We have already experienced the devastation caused by invasive species in many of our nation’s most valuable ecosystems, including the Great Lakes”, said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “Additionally, species like Asian carp, legally imported in the 1970’s, are wreaking havoc in our nation’s waters and pose a major threat to our Great Lakes. Senator Gillibrand’s legislation addresses two of the most important tactics to battling invasive species, which is prevention and rapid response. We applaud the Senator for this action to help protect our nation’s economy and ecological health”.
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 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 established an ecosystem.

Senator Gillibrand’s legislation gives the U.S. 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 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.