Written by: Kaelyn Barbour, Summer Research Associate, National Sea Grant Law Center

On June 8, 2017, the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Act (WILD Act) passed the U.S. Senate as Senate Bill 826. The bipartisan piece of legislation focuses on wildlife conservation, the prevention of wildlife poaching and trafficking, the management of invasive species, and the protection of endangered species through the design and implementation of innovative solutions.

If enacted, Title II of the WILD Act would require the Secretaries of several federal departments, including Army, Interior and Agriculture, to develop strategic plans to implement programs to reduce invasive species populations on federal lands and water they each manage. When selecting control or management projects pursuant to these strategic plans, the Secretaries would be required to prioritize the use of methods that effectively control and manage invasive species, minimize environmental impacts, and do so in the least costly manner. To ensure compliance with this directive, the Secretaries must require a comparative economic assessment of the chosen control and management methods. Title II does not authorize additional funding to the Secretaries for these strategic planning efforts. Title II, however, does mandate that 75% of any funding appropriated to the Secretaries for invasive species programs be directed towards “on-the-ground control and management of invasive species.” No more than 15% of appropriated funds could be used for “investigations, development activities, and outreach and public awareness efforts.”

Title IV of the WILD Act would authorize the establishment of five new prize competitions, referred to as Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prizes, to produce incentives for creative solutions to environmental challenges. One of the competitions would award 1 or more $100,000 prizes each year for a technological advancement that manages invasive species. The competition would be managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The topics and problem statements for the annual prize competitions would be selected by the “Management of Invasive Species Technology Advisory Board.” Winners would be selected by three judges appointed by the Secretary of Interior.

The Senate Bill is now under consideration in the House. A companion bill, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act (H.R. 227), has been introduced in the House. H.R. 227 reauthorizes conservation funds for certain species, but does not include the invasive species provisions in the Senate bill. Given the differences between the two bills, there is a possibility that the invasive species sections do not survive reconciliation.  GovTrack rates S. 826 chances of passage at 21%.

Click here for more information on Senate Bill 826.

Click here for more information on House Bill 227.