Protect Wildlife.
Protect Us.℠

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The commercial trade in live wildlife for human consumption is leaving us exposed to the threat of deadly, zoonotic pandemics through viral spillover from wildlife to humans along the trade chain.

Urge Congress to pass legislation to end the commercial wildlife trade for human consumption.




End commercial trade in wildlife for human consumption.

Around the world, wildlife are taken from their natural habitat, and traded at wildlife markets for many different uses, including for their meat.

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Photo Credit: ©WCS Vietnam

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The impact of commercial wildlife trafficking for human consumption has never been clearer. And as the world contends with the consequences, the need to shut down this trade has never been more urgent. Help us take action around the world.

The spread of zoonotic diseases.

Commercial wildlife markets, at which wildlife are often sold freshly slaughtered, present a major risk for the development and spread of zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases occur when harmful germs, like viruses and bacteria, are spread from animals to people causing illness that can range from mild to deadly.

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The numerous wildlife species that are brought together at commercial wildlife markets create the potential to shed and share viruses for long periods of time. Viruses that can then be passed along to people.

Pandemic Infographic

There are some local communities and Indigenous Peoples who rely on wildlife as a primary source of food security and don’t present a significant risk of transmitting zoonotic diseases.

The source of COVID-19 and previous zoonotic outbreaks.

There are many types of coronaviruses, and sometimes coronaviruses in animals jump and infect people.

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That is what happened with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, leading to a global pandemic. And this has happened before, causing outbreaks such as:

  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

According to the CDC, after a field investigation, scientists determined that COVID-19 possibly came from an animal sold at a commercial wildlife market.

Updates on COVID-19

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  • 1 Billion

    cases of human illness and millions of human deaths every year are caused by diseases of zoonotic origin

  • 60%

    of emerging diseases reported globally are zoonotic

  • 700,000

    of the 1.6 million-plus unknown viruses in birds and mammals could pose a risk to people

Our proposal: Protecting Wildlife means Protecting Us.

To prevent future major viral outbreaks such as the COVID-19 outbreak, and the associated impacts on 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. Meanwhile, ensuring consideration of the needs of Indigenous Peoples and local communities that are dependent on wildlife consumption for their food security.

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What You Can Do

Urge Your Legislator to Help

Tell leadership to help end the commercial trade in wildlife for human consumption and reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Support legislation that encourages the U.S. to:

  • Work together with institutions that encourage other nations to end the commercial trade in wildlife for human consumption
  • Protect Indigenous Peoples who rely on local wildlife as a primary source of food security
  • Strengthen zoonotic surveillance to stop the spillover of diseases of zoonotic origin
  • Expand U.S. international programs that provide alternative sources of protein and reduce demand for wildlife consumption
  • Address the root causes of zoonotic disease outbreaks by protecting biodiversity strongholds and combating wildlife trafficking




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