House backs bill to target wildlife trafficking

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a bill that allows the State Department to offer financial rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of wildlife traffickers who target endangered elephants, rhinos, lions and other species.

The bill adds wildlife trafficking to the list of criminal activities such as terrorism that the State Department can target with rewards of up to $25 million to whistleblowers.

Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, the bill’s chief sponsor, called wildlife trafficking “a nefarious and persistent threat to endangered animals across the world.”

Elephants, rhinos, giraffes, lions and other animals are targeted by poachers who sell carcasses and body parts for up to tens of thousands of dollars apiece. The bill was approved on a voice vote and now goes to the Senate.

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