CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 411 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage, on April 21, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Inslee (D-WA) on January 9, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which has taken no official action.
H.R. 411 would establish the Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Fund within the Multinational Species Conservation Fund (MSCF). The bill authorizes $5 million annually from Fiscal Year 2010 through Fiscal Year 2014 for the fund. The bill would also authorize the appropriation of "such sums as are necessary" for the Secretary of Interior to conduct a study of the conservation status of felid and canid species. The bill would only provide financial assistance to organizations outside of the United States.
The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance for "projects relating to the conservation of rare felid and rare canids," pending approval by the Secretary. Under the bill a "rare felid" would be defined as any species of lion, leopard, jaguar, snow leopard, clouded leopard, cheetah, Iberian lynx, or Borneo bay cat. No funds could be provided for the conservation of a rare felid species subspecies, or population that is native to the United States
The term "rare canid" would be defined as any species of dhole, gray wolf, Ethiopian wolf, bush dog, African wild dog, maned wolf, or Darwin's fox. No funds could be provided for the conservation of a rare canid species that is native to the area comprised of the United States, Canada or the European Union.
In order to be approved, each project must include a statement of purpose, a description of those conducting the project, a description of the methods used to carry out the project, the estimated cost of the project, and evidence that the government where the program takes place supports the project. The Secretary would be given 180 days to approve or disapprove of a proposal. The Secretary is required to give priority consideration to projects that receive matching funds.
The Multinational Species Conservation Fund (MSCF) is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and provides funding for international conservation efforts for distinct species groups. There are currently six MSCF species funds: the African elephants fund, the tiger and rhinos fund, the Asian elephants fund, the great apes fund, the marine turtle fund, and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. H.R. 411 would add a new fund for 15 species of cats and canines exclusively located outside of the United States.
Similar legislation (H.R. 1464) was considered in the 110th Congress and passed the House under a suspension of the rules by a vote of 294 - 119. At the time, some Members expressed concerns that the bill would create a new MSCF conservation fund and authorize the appropriation of $25 million over five years to provide assistance for rare cat and canine programs conducted exclusively outside of the U.S. Some Members were concerned that international animal protection efforts should be funded by private organizations, or by the government of the country wherein they take place, rather than taxpayers.
A CBO score for H.R. 411 was not available at press time. However, a CBO score for H.R. 1464 (an almost identical bill considered in the 110th Congress) estimated that the bill would cost $19 million over five years.