WCS Issues Policy on Reducing Risk of Future Zoonotic Pandemics

March 28, 2020

A New Paradigm Urgently Needed:

To prevent future major viral outbreaks such as the COVID-19 outbreak, impacting human health, well-being, economies, and security on a global scale, WCS recommends stopping all commercial trade in wildlife for human consumption (particularly of birds and mammals) and closing all such markets.

New York, March 28, 2020 – The Wildlife Conservation Society is issuing today our policy backed by science on actions needed to reduce the risks of future zoonotic pandemics.

WCS has been on the frontlines for decades on working with communities and governments to combat zoonotic diseases, the spillover of viruses from wildlife to humans.

WCS’s policy states: To prevent future major viral outbreaks such as the COVID-19 outbreak, impacting human health, well-being, economies, and security on a global scale, WCS recommends stopping all commercial trade in wildlife for human consumption (particularly of birds and mammals) and closing all such markets.

Rigorous enforcement of existing laws, regulations, and international treaties that deal with wildlife trade and markets is critical and necessary, but this is simply not enough. A new paradigm is needed if we are to avoid a pandemic such as the one we are experiencing today.

Our recommendations do not pertain to subsistence hunting by Indigenous Peoples and local communities for household consumption, for whom there are often few or no other sources of protein.

The policy examines in more depth:

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