US Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill to End Wildlife Trafficking

Animal rights groups support the Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2021.

frog in a Singapore wet market
Frog in a wildlife market in Singapore. Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

On the first day of the new Congress this week, members of the U.S. House reintroduced a bill that would end the import, export, and sale of wild animals for human consumption in the U.S. The legislation would also work toward shutting down wildlife markets globally.

The bill’s reintroduction comes as the pandemic continues worldwide. COVID-19 is the most recent zoonotic disease that has spread from animals to humans. It is likely that the virus originated in bats or other wildlife, scientists say. From there, it could have traveled to humans via another species as host.

Originally, researchers believed that the virus was spread from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, or that the market was the site of a superspreader event. Later investigations found that the people may have been infected before the market. 

Because of the animal to human transmission, the Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2021 was introduced by Representatives Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, and Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan. 

Officially known as H.R.8433, the bill would prohibit “importing, exporting, purchasing, or selling live wild animals in the United States for human consumption as food or medicine.” In addition, it calls for working with other nations toward an worldwide ban on commercial wildlife markets and an end to wildlife trafficking.

The bill was introduced in September 2020 and was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 150 Representatives.

“For the sake of our health, our economy, and our livelihoods, preventing the next pandemic before it starts is perhaps the most important thing we must do,” said Quigley in a statement announcing the bill’s reintroduction. “We were thrilled with the robust, bipartisan support the bill received last year and we’re committed to building on that momentum to see this bill become law.”

Animal Supporters Weigh In

Animal rights groups were quick to show their support.

“Wherever they exist, wildlife markets are filthy, crowded sites filled with sick, injured, frightened and contagious animals. They are harmful and dangerous breeding grounds for disease transmission from animals to humans, and we must see and treat them as the probable sparks of future pandemic threat,” Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, tells Treehugger. 

“Reps. Quigley and Upton have risen to the occasion again with a bill that puts the United States on a fast track to global leadership in halting the spread of zoonotic disease through these markets.”

“COVID-19 was a preventable catastrophe, with a global economic impact exceeding $20 trillion and counting,” Wayne Pacelle, president at Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, said in a statement

“Good public policy prevents calamities like the one we’ve endured for the last year, and that’s what this legislation does by taking aim at live-wildlife markets in the U.S. and abroad. Enacting this measure should be a top priority for this Congress since we cannot endure one more pandemic spawned by a live wildlife market.”

A companion bill is set to be reintroduced in the Senate later this month by Democrat Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey and Republican Senator John Cornyn from Texas.

View Article Sources
  1. "Preventing Future Pandemics Act Of 2020." Congress.Gov, 2020.

  2. Mackenzie, John S., et al. "COVID-19: A Novel Zoonotic Disease caused by a Coronavirus from China: What we know and what we don't." Microbiology Australia, vol. 41, no. 1, 2020, p. 45, doi:10.1071/ma20013

  3. "Origin Of SARS-Cov-2". World Health Organization, 2020.