National Parks Under Assault from Poachers

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   October 24, 2005
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


National Parks Under Assault from Poachers

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The nation’s leading park advocacy group, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), today called on Congress and the administration to provide much-needed funding and staffing to enable the National Park Service to combat poaching in America’s national parks, a widespread problem profiled in The Washington Post today. NPCA warned that any cuts to the agency’s budget would exacerbate the problem.

“Our national parks are under assault,” said Steven Bosak, NPCA’s National Park Funding Program director. “Without adequate funding, the Park Service can’t keep poachers from stealing the nation’s heritage.”

Congress is currently considering an across-the-board cut to the Park Service’s budget, which could be as high as 5 percent. “Any cuts to the Park Service’s budget could be debilitating, exacerbating problems such as poaching by potentially causing staff and program reductions,” Bosak warned.

NPCA’s report, Faded Glory: Top 10 Reasons to Reinvest in America’s National Park Heritage, points out that the annual operating budget of the national parks is already short more than $600 million annually, resulting in limited staff and funding to monitor wildlife and artifacts, and to address poaching, which is impairing parks nationwide.

For example, poachers steal moss from Olympic, ginseng from Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway (when harvested legally, these roots sell for $350 to $400 per pound), black bears from Shenandoah (gall bladders are resold on the international black market for up to $3,000), fossils from Badlands National Park, endangered cacti from Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, and rare archaeological artifacts from national parks in the Southwest.

In its fiscal year 2006 budget request the administration said, “The poaching of wildlife from national parks has been steadily increasing each year for the past several years.” More than 100 wildlife species, including threatened and endangered sea turtles, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and desert tortoise, have been poached from 153 national parks across the country.

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