Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik (NY-21) today announced the reintroduction of the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act, legislation to protect New York’s natural resources from the threat of invasive species. This legislation would give the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) greater authority to regulate nonnative species and prohibit them from being imported or sold in the United States. In the 114th Congress, Gillibrand introduced the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act with late-U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-25).
“Whether it’s Asian Carp in our lakes or the Emerald Ash Borer in our forests, invasive species threaten our environment and our economy, and we have to do everything we can to block them from coming into our state,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act would help better protect our precious natural resources, strengthen our economy, draw tourism to our state, and provide clean drinking water to New Yorkers. I urge my colleagues to address this problem and pass this bipartisan legislation.”
“As the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Invasive Species Caucus, I am pleased to join Senator Gillibrand in introducing this bicameral bill to protect our North Country environment,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Combating invasive species helps keep our natural habitats healthy for future generations to enjoy, and also ensures that these environmental treasures continue to attract tourism, sportsmen, and commerce to our region. This important bill will give the Fish and Wildlife Service needed flexibility to regulate and combat invasive pests that threaten our region, and I urge my colleagues in the House to support it.”
The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act would give the USFWS greater authority to regulate nonnative species and prohibit them from being imported or sold in the United States. The USFWS regulates species considered to be harmful to the wildlife and natural resources of the United States. These species, referred to as “injurious wildlife,” cannot be imported into the United States or its territories, or be transported through interstate commerce, without a USFWS permit.
More than 200 species are listed as “injurious wildlife.” Under the current system, the “injurious wildlife” designation happens after a species has already been introduced to the United States and is causing harm to our environment and economy. This legislation would address the threat of potentially invasive species before they can be imported into the United States or enter into interstate commerce by establishing a new injurious species listing process that is based on the scientific risk analysis. The legislation would also provide the USFWS with the temporary authority to make emergency designations for wildlife that pose an imminent threat.
Invasive species pose a serious threat to New York’s natural resources. Asian Carp threaten the wellbeing of the Great Lakes ecosystems, which provide drinking water to over 30 million Americans, support a $7 billion fishing industry and a $15.5 billion boating industry, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The Emerald Ash Borer beetle has spread to 31 states and decimated hundreds of millions of Ash trees across North America, and will devastate New York’s ecology and forest industries if action is not taken.