Woe betide the canids and the felids – the dogs and cats of the world. While our domesticated cats and dogs are doing quite well, their wild relatives are suffering. There are 37 wild species of cat around the world, and all of them are recognized as endangered species. Half of the wild dogs around the world are endangered. Animals like the caracal, the Bornean marbled cat, the oncilla, the Ethiopian wolf, the black-backed jackal and the racoon dog are in serious trouble. You’ll find many more at the World Conservation Union’s Red List.
With this in mind, Congressman Tom Udall of New Mexico introduced, H.R. 1464, a bill named the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2008, last spring. The law would provide for funds to be provided, through the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, to groups working to preserve wild canid and felid species around the world. Projects in Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan and North Korea would be excluded.
It’s especially important to conserve wild cats and dogs, because they’re predators. As such, they help to preserve balance within ecological systems. When predators go extinct, their prey species go through wild boom and bust cycles that endanger large number of animal and plant circles. So, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2008 is arguably the most important conservation legislation to be presented to Congress this year.
This isn’t pork barrel legislation, either. H.R. 1464 has been certified as containing no earmarks at all.
This month, H.R. 1464 finally came to the floor of the House of Representatives, for a general House vote yesterday. At 5:17 PM, the measure was passed. Of course, now the Senate needs to pass an equivalent bill in order for the legislation to gain the status of law.
The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2008 gained 88 cosponsors, both Democrats and Republicans, before the vote. These cosponsors deserve gratitude:
It’s worth noting, however, that although Representative Wayne Gilchrest was a co-sponsor, he was not present for the vote. Also worthy of note is that Tom Udall is running for the open U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico. Based on this good legislation he’s worked to get passed say that he merits consideration.
More news on this bill to come later today: 119 Representatives actually voted against this important conservation law. Who were they?