New York, NY – Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, applauds today’s enactment of the Natural Resources Management Act (NRMA), the largest national public lands bill signed into law in years. Overwhelmingly passed by the Senate and House in a rare moment of political unity, and today signed into law by President Trump, this Act will help to preserve America’s wilderness and many species within and beyond our nation’s borders, including wild pumas and tigers.
Panthera CEO and President, Dr. Fred Launay, stated, “Given the American people’s reliance upon healthy ecosystems to be healthy human beings, this is just the sort of bipartisan work that should be celebrated and supported. This uniquely embracive piece of legislation is a win for countless wild cats and other wildlife, as much as for ourselves.”
Among achievements ranging from civil rights to conservation, NRMA designates over one million acres of American wilderness for environmental protection and permanently reauthorizes the venerable Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal initiative that uses offshore fossil fuel company royalties, as opposed to taxpayer dollars, to fund onshore conservation programs.
The bill additionally reauthorizes government funding for a number of wildlife conservation acts, including the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994, which has served as a source of support for some of Panthera’s critical tiger conservation initiatives in India, Malaysia, Nepal and Thailand dating as far back as 2012. Going forward, NRMA will also organize cash-prize competitions for technological innovations that prevent illegal wildlife poaching and trafficking.
NRMA also permanently withdraws federal mining rights from over 370,000 acres of land abutting two protected areas that are homes to pumas: Yellowstone and North Cascades National Parks.
Among many victories for the American people, this Act will create significant ecotourism, economic development and employment opportunities, demonstrating the value of our nation’s wildlife, alive.
In stark contrast to these conservation wins, however, are the protections and allowances provided by NRMA for the hunting lobby. Through the ‘Open Until Closed’ policy, NRMA automatically designates all federal lands open for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting unless otherwise specified, potentially placing a target on the backs of pumas already threatened by unsustainable hunting in some areas of the United States. This creates a new burden on federal agencies to quickly assess and “close” certain previously protected lands under their jurisdictions to potentially harmful hunting or fishing.
Panthera Puma Program Director, Dr. Mark Elbroch, stated, “While this bill signifies a victory for wildlife in so many ways, there are certainly a few worrisome components that could be misused to injure wild cats and other species, and we need to watch their roll out carefully. It is up to policymakers, conservation organizations and all of the American citizens who care about their wildlife to ensure that this legislation truly delivers the promised good for our nation’s incredible wild species, lands and people.”