Thursday, April 9, 2020

By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block

Consistent with the recommendations in Wildlife Markets and COVID-19, the Humane Society International report released earlier this week, and our own messaging on the pandemic, Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Representatives Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and more than sixty of their colleagues have sent an urgent letter seeking action from three major global health entities. In their communication to the Directors-General of the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, they asked the three groups “to take aggressive action toward a global shut down of live wildlife markets and a ban on the international trade of live wildlife that is not intended for conservation purposes.” This is one of several calls by elected officials for worldwide action to reduce future pandemic risks.

Humane Society Legislative Fund staff members worked closely with Democratic and Republican congressional offices to develop the case laid out in the joint letter. Together with leadership on both sides of the aisle, we’re going to work to step up the pressure to shut these markets down.

In Wildlife Markets and COVID-19, our colleagues urged governments around the world at all levels to ban or severely limit all trade, transport and consumption of wildlife, immediately. The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and Humane Society International have long pointed to wildlife markets and related trade as a dangerous vector for transmission of zoonotic diseases. We’ve stated the case plainly ourselves. We must close wildlife markets selling wild animals, particularly mammals and birds, in every nation, and we must halt the import, export and internal transport of live wildlife or wildlife meat intended for sale in such markets or in other contexts, whether the animals were captured in the wild or farmed. It’s not just for the animals’ sake; it’s for our own.

Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.