WASHINGTON, DC – In advance of World Frog Day, U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced the Global Amphibians Protection Act. The legislation will support the conservation of highly endangered amphibian species across the globe.
Amphibians are some of the oldest species in the world, some existing before the dinosaurs. Today, nearly 70% of amphibian species are either in decline or at risk of extinction due to disease, habitat loss, pollution and other factors. Amphibians serve a critical role in their ecosystems, and their disappearance is expected to have dramatic adverse results. They also provide benefits to human health by preying on disease-spreading insects like mosquitos and by producing compounds that can treat diseases including cancer.
The legislation is supported by a number of groups including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which has been committed to saving wildlife for more than 125 years and runs the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn. WCS conservationists work in forests, deserts, mountains, plains and oceans across the globe to conserve species facing the greatest danger.
“Protecting our planet’s amphibians requires strong support, including by lawmakers here in Congress. We can no longer ignore the very real threat to the survival of these essential species, and in turn, the threat to ecosystems around the globe,” said Rep. Jeffries. “It is time we commit to conserving them. I am proud to introduce this common-sense, bipartisan legislation with my colleagues Jared Huffman, Brian Fitzpatrick and Vern Buchanan.”
“Amphibians serve a critical role in many ecosystems around the world, but the rapidly increasing extinction crisis is threatening nearly 70% of these valued species,” said Rep. Huffman. “We must act quickly to ensure a future planet that is as rich in biodiversity as it is today, and this bill to restart important species-saving activities is an important step to save amphibians on the brink of extinction.”
“With more than 8,000 current species, amphibians are found almost everywhere on our planet, and, today, nearly 70% of our amphibian species are in decline and at risk of extinction. The need for amphibian conservation and protection is urgent and imperative,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Amphibians play a vitally critical role in their ecosystem and even provide numerous benefits to human health. Our bipartisan Global Amphibian Protection Act will support species-saving activities and implement safeguards to ensure that the federal funds are well-spent and targeted at the amphibian species that are most in need of conservation efforts.”
“Allowing a species to become extinct is a tragedy we should do everything in our power to prevent. With nearly half of all amphibian species in decline and more than 30 percent threatened by extinction, it is clear that something needs to be done to protect these animals,” said Rep. Buchanan.“This important legislation will support vital projects around the world and help save critically endangered amphibians.”
“Amphibians around the world are under serious threat from disease, pollution, and the long-term changes in temperature from the global climate crisis,” said John Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “I am grateful to Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Brian Fitzpatrick, Jared Huffman, and Vern Buchanan for reintroducing the Global Amphibians Protection Act, which will restart an important source of funding to conserve amphibian species in decline or most at risk of extinction.”
In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created the Amphibians in Decline Conservation Fund to address the global crisis facing amphibians. For six years, the program assisted conservation efforts in 25 countries but ended when funding was no longer available.
The Global Amphibian Protection Act would restart species-saving activities through a competitive grant program run by the Secretary of the Interior to conserve highly endangered amphibians worldwide. It would include safeguards to ensure that the federal funds are well-spent and targeted at the species most in need. Eligible applicants for the grant would be wildlife management authorities of a foreign country with a natural habitat of a highly endangered amphibian species or any person or group with demonstrated expertise required to conserve a highly endangered amphibian species in a foreign country.
Supporters of the bill include the African Wildlife Foundation, Amphibian Survival Alliance, Animal Welfare Institute, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Bonobo Conservation Initiative, Born Free USA, Center for Biological Diversity, Cheetah Conservation Fund, Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Investigation Agency, Global Wildlife Conservation, Humane Society International, Humane Society Legislative Fund, The Humane Society of the United States, International Crane Foundation, International Elephant Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Rhino Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Rare Species Fund, Wild Earth Allies, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund.