Ex-Lawmaker Sounds Alarm On Wildlife Poaching Epidemic
John Tanner, a popular moderate Democrat from west Tennessee, served 11 terms in the House of Representatives and likely could have served several more.
Instead, the longtime lawmaker – like many of his colleagues in recent years – walked away from the marbled halls of power on Capitol Hill in 2011, frustrated by congressional gridlock and eager to see where else he could apply his political expertise and Washington contacts. That’s why he got involved with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) – a place where he can still influence Congress, but from a distance and with a laser-beam focus on the environmental and conservation issues he cares about. Tanner joined the group’s board three years ago and is now its chairman.
“I got involved in this on one very simple premise,” Tanner said with his rich Tennessee drawl during a late February afternoon interview at his office at the Prime Policy Group, a lobbying and government relations firm in midtown Washington. “We’ve got one planet here and if we mess this up we’ve got nowhere to go. We have to take care of what we’ve got if we’re going to pass it on to our children.”
Wildlife products are easily converted into cash and used to purchase weapons and fund transnational crime syndicates and violent terrorist organizations. According to the Stimson Center, wildlife has become the fourth-largest illicitly traded good in the world, representing a $19 billion industry. Yet punishments for poaching, compared to drug or arms trafficking, are light, making it a low-risk, high-reward venture.
To read the full story, click here.