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For Immediate Release: 04/22/09

Congress Extends Lifeline to Endangered Cats and Dogs

House Vote Could Save Species from Extinction

Washington, DC — Born Free USA today congratulated the United States House of Representatives on its passage of H.R. 411, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2009. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming vote of 290-118, would make vital funds available for conservation projects to save imperiled species of wild felids and canids around the world.

“Congress has wisely recognized, once again, the important role it can play in global endangered species conservation,” noted Adam M. Roberts, Senior Vice President of Born Free USA. “We urge the Senate to move its version of the bill without delay so that urgently needed funds can start flowing to the field as soon as possible.”

The Act, based on popular and successful laws to conserve African and Asian elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes, marine turtles, and migratory birds, would support a number of species of particular concern to Born Free USA.

The lion, for instance, is considered by many to be an African symbol of strength and power, but the stark reality is that Africa’s lions today are in serious trouble. As few as 25,000 lions remain, down from 100,000 just 30 years ago.

Roberts noted: “Wild lions are simply unable to cope with the endless barrage of threats before them: indiscriminate poisoning, shrinking habitats, lack of prey species, trophy hunting, poaching and illegal trade. Urgent and immediate action is required to mitigate these threats and pave the way for a stable future for Africa’s lions.”

The remarkable and highly endangered Ethiopian wolf is another species that could also benefit. With fewer than 500 adult Ethiopian wolves remaining, this species is one of the rarest carnivores in the world. Living in small, isolated populations within Afroalpine regions of Ethiopia, the wolves are severely threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, disease, conflict with humans and hybridization with domestic dogs.

“One significant rabies outbreak in the area and many of the last remaining Ethiopian wolves on the planet could be gone forever, bringing the species a step closer to extinction,” warned Roberts. “What would our children think of us if we allowed that to happen? Thankfully, this bill could provide the funds to prevent such a wildlife catastrophe.”

Born Free USA and its partner organization, the Born Free Foundation in England, undertake a number of significant in situ conservation projects to save these and other species that could benefit by passage of the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act. The organizations welcome any external funding to secure a future for these rare canid and felid species in the wild.

Born Free USA is a leading national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the U.S. and globally. More information is available at www.bornfreeusa.org.

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Contact:
Adam M. Roberts, Senior Vice President, Born Free USA, 202-445-3572

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