Wildlife Protection Acts and Treaties
More emphasis has been placed in recent decades on preserving endangered wildlife, both flora and fauna. Many of the species have international significance and some have medical significance. The Environmental Crime Program of INTERPOL is active in policing compliance with these acts and treaties as they have an international impact on the environment and health. The following acts and treaties are some that have a widespread impact.
Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada, Signed by Great Britain 1916
The purpose of this treaty is the protection of migrating birds that are considered endangered. Species that are either harmless or benefit mankind are protected by this treaty. It determines closed seasons for hunting with no hunting allowed for birds that are insectivores except when they threaten crops; in that instance, a permit may be issued.
Migratory Bird and Game Mammal Treaty with Mexico 1936
Birds that migrate between the U.S. and Mexico, crossing the borders, needed to be protected. Major flyways between the U.S. and Mexico have been identified over many years. This treaty was created to control hunting seasons and keep these flyways safe and natural for the migrating birds. Code was put in place in the U.S. specifying penalties for infringing on this treaty. In 1972 the treaty added many other species of birds that included eagles, hawks, and owls.
Antarctic Treaty 1959
There were twelve nations that agreed with the treaty constructed by The Third Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in 1959. The concern was to assure that the flora and fauna of the region were kept safe. No one without a permit may bring any birds, plants or mammals into or out of the U.S. or Canada that are native to the Antarctic. Seals from the region were added to the treaty in 1972. Particular attention was paid to keeping military activity and hazards out of the region.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora established regulations to prevent over-exploiting plants and animals listed as endangered in appendices to the Convention. Eighty nations signed it in March 1973, and the U.S. ratified it in September 1973. The treaty began to be enforced on July 1, 1975. By the end of November 1999, 146 countries adopted the Convention. INTERPOL's TIGRE Operation is active in preventing illegal activities related to tigers as they occur in their natural range. There are many species of tigers on the endangered list.
Environmental Protection Treaty with the Russian Federation 1973
This treaty was arrived at between the U.S. and the Russian Federation. Its intent is to assure the ecology of the arctic and subarctic are protected. It provides for the creation of preserves and parks, places for the natural wildlife to flourish. Air quality and water pollution were also a concern. It was necessary for both nations to agree since many of the boundaries of this natural habitat border one or both of these nations. Legislation has been introduced to remove the Pacific walrus from the endangered list impacting this treaty.
Polar Bear Treaty 1974
This treaty was an effort by the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the USSR to protect the polar bear population. The treaty specified that all these counties were to limit the hunting, killing or capturing of polar bears and to keep the nature of the feeding areas and migration paths ecologically healthy.
African Elephant Conservation Act 1989
Because the elephant population was declining and there was a large illegal trade in ivory, it was agreed in 1989 to make every effort to control the exploitation and poaching of African elephants for their ivory. Some African countries had already put conservation measures in place but more countries were needed to comply or the African elephant population would continue to decline.
Illegal Ivory Trade
Subsequent with the decline in the elephant population, illegal trade in ivory from both the African elephant and the Asian elephant continue to be a problem and quotas have been established. INTERPOL's MOGATLE operation is active in stopping illegal trade in ivory.
Efforts in 2011
In May 2011, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service delisted gray wolves as endangered in all states but Wyoming. Wyoming may soon lose federal protection.