My Exclusive Interview, on Wildlife Protection, With President Barack Obama A Humane Nation – Humane Society of The United States 

Wayne Pacelle’s Blog

March 3, 2016

We’ve been working with President Barack Obama and a number of his cabinet secretaries and executive agency staff on a wide range of animal welfare policies during the last seven years — from preventing horse slaughter plants from opening up to halting the slaughter of downer calves to ending the use of government-owned chimpanzees in invasive experiments. Today is World Wildlife Day, and it’s an opportunity for us to turn our attention to the numerous threats facing wild animals around the globe. Wildlife protection has been a very active area of collaboration for us and the White House, on everything from combating the poaching of elephants and rhinos to protecting right whales along the Atlantic coast to stopping the trophy hunting of African lions to ending commercial fishing practices harmful to sea turtles and dolphins to seeking greater protections for polar bears exploited in the international commercial trade. I had the privilege and opportunity to ask President Obama about what he considers some of his top accomplishments in protecting wildlife, and this interview represents one of the fullest expressions of his views that’s been published anywhere on his wildlife protection ethic.
Q: What do you see as the most important steps you’ve taken in the area of animal protection?
Let me say this first – every step I’ve taken to protect our environment and our wildlife is a personal one for me. I grew up in Hawaii, known for its iconic natural beauty. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time exploring outdoors. It was hard not to learn very early just how easy it is to appreciate – and how hard it can be to protect – the incredible splendor that nature provides us. When I was 11, I had never been to the mainland, and my grandmother, my mother, and my two-year-old sister and I decided to take a big summer trip across the continental U.S. I still remember traveling up to Yellowstone National Park, coming over a hill, and suddenly seeing just hundreds of deer and bison for the very first time. That new scenery gave me a sense of just how immense, how diverse, and how important the vast array of wildlife is to understanding and appreciating the world and our place in it. That’s something I wanted my daughters to understand when I brought them back to the very same spot at Yellowstone a few years ago. And it’s something I want to preserve for our kids, grandkids, and generations to come.
That’s why I’ve taken every opportunity in my time in office to protect the world’s wildlife where I can. We’ve negotiated the highest-standard trade agreement in history that will provide new tools to protect wildlife. We’re leading the world in protecting exploited species of sharks. We’re substantially reducing government research on chimpanzees and providing protection for all chimpanzees in the wild and captivity. And we’re taking new action to recover monarch butterflies and other pollinators and expanding protection and restoration efforts for endangered species here in the United States.
To address the ongoing scourge of poaching that is threatening the existence of species like the elephant and the rhino, I issued an Executive Order about three years ago that directed all agencies of the federal government to work together as a presidential task force to protect these important animals. We’ve also pursued successful efforts to conserve an iconic bird—the greater sage grouse—across 11 western states. It’s the largest planning effort to protect a species in U.S. history, illustrating how a strong national, state, and private collaboration and flexible and effective programs can protect wildlife, benefit the environment and enhance local economies across the country.

“We currently face the risk of losing wild elephants during my lifetime.” President Obama says. “It’d be an unpardonable loss for humanity and the natural world. There’s no question: we need to take urgent action to save one of the planet’s most majestic species.” Photo by iStockphoto

To read Wayne Pacelle’s full interview with the President: My Exclusive Interview, on Wildlife Protection, With President Barack Obama, click HERE