July 30, 2019

Standing with Wildlife

Dear Friends,

I have spent my whole life nurtured by a love of animals – from my childhood dog Toby to my wife's and my dog Teddy who now serves as big brother to our daughter, animals have always been a source of comfort and peace for me and have been cherished members of my family.

Starting from the very first day I arrived in Congress, it has been my honor to stand-up for animals - from the pets that are treasured members of our families to the wildlife that roams the world - just as they have always been there for me.

CHAIRING A HEARING TO EXPAND GRIZZLY BEAR PROTECTIONS

Through my position on the Natural Resources Committee, I am able to serve on the subcommittee for Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. From day one this committee has prioritized hearing and moving forward bills to advance protections for animals big and small, including some of our world's most endangered species.

I was honored to chair this committee's recent hearing on the "Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act" put forward by our Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva. It’s estimated that at one time, over 50,000 grizzly bears roamed the continental United States. Now, that number is around just fifteen hundred, with about 700 of those residing in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2017, the Trump administration removed Yellowstone grizzly bears from the federal list of threatened species. This bill would ensure stronger protections for the Grizzly Bear - crucial not only to the species itself, but also to Native Amerian Tribes across the country who hold the bear sacred. I am honored to support this legislation and to help usher in protections for this treasured, integral American species. Watch my opening statement from this hearing here!

URGENT PROTECTIONS OF RIGHT WHALES

As a land-locked state, one might be surprised to know just how much stake Coloradans hold in our oceans and the wildlife which reside in them, including the North Atlantic Right Whale. Not only does Colorado have the most scuba divers per capita of any state, but the second Congressional District is also brimming with local advocacy organizations helping to lead the charge to preserve our oceans and protect their inhabitants and delicate ecosystems.

One of the ocean's most endangered animals is the North Atlantic Right Whale with only 400 of the species remaining, only 100 of which are breeding females. This urgent reality is why I'm proud to be a cosponsor of the SAVE the Right Whales Act and to have utilized my time during the hearing on this bill to ask questions about the disruptive seismic airgun blasting used to explore offshore drilling which is destroying critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Listen to all of my questions on Right Whales and this critical piece of legislation here!

SECURING FUNDS TO PREVENT ANIMAL FIGHTING

Appropriations are one of the best ways for members of Congress to stand-up for the issues that matter most to our districts and ensure that crucial funding is allocated to solving those issues. That's why I led amendments to this year's appropriations bill to secure $3 million in funding to better investigate and prosecute animal fighting. Animal fighting is a cruel and brutal practice that is not investigated and prosecuted nearly enough.

Failure to enforce this law leaves animals to suffer tremendously. It also puts communities at risk from the drug trafficking, gang violence, and other violence against people that goes hand-in-hand with animal fighting activities. It was my honor to secure more funding to halt these crimes and create safer communities for our people and the animals that we cherish.

FIGHTING AGAINST THE DELISTING OF GRAY WOLVES

While Colorado is part of the Gray Wolf’s native range, they were erased from the state by the 1940s. Over many years, the dedicated work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and animal rights groups has helped restore Gray Wolves to Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona, and more and more of them are coming into Colorado and the Rockies during their natural migrations. It was this work that brought wolves back from the brink of extinction, and it will be the continuation of this work that fosters the wolves survival long into the future. The Administration has actively worked to delist Gray Wolves from these protections, which is why I authored a letter, along with my colleague Congresswoman Diana DeGette, to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service insisting on a longer public comment period and a public hearing in Denver on the decision to delist these wolves. And the people responded! As of July 15 over 1.8 million comments have been submitted in opposition to the delisting, which is one of the highest comment totals ever for a federal decision involving endangered species. I joined in those comments by signing a letter to the agency explaining the hazards of the potential decision to delist and stating my strong opposition to that decision. Wolves deserve and necessitate champions in each of us, and I’m proud to join in such strong advocacy. Each and every day that I have the honor of serving this community, I will continue this work.

COSPONSORING CRITICAL ANIMAL WELFARE LEGISLATION

Since coming to Congress, I have cosponsored over 15 bills to protect animal welfare, prevent trafficking of endangered species, and expand protections for at-risk species.

My priorities coming into this Congress – based on the incredible and unique district which I represent – include issues that are inextricably linked to the survival of wildlife. From fighting the existential threat of climate change to the preservation of our treasured public lands, we cannot underestimate the ways that the needs of our wildlife are inseparable from the needs of our entire planet.

I look forward to continuing this critical work,

Joe Neguse

Member of Congress