Improving Federal Management of Wildlife Movement and Emerging Infectious Disease

Author: Karen Lips


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed systematic vulnerabilities in the way that wildlife movement and emerging infectious diseases are managed at national and international scales. The next administration should take three key steps to address these vulnerabilities in the United States. First, the White House should create a “Task Force on the Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases”. This Task Force would convene agencies with oversight over animal imports, identify necessary policy actions, determine priority research areas, and coordinate a national response strategy. Second, the next president should work with Congress to pass a bill strengthening live-animal import regulations. Third, U.S. agencies should coordinate with international organizations to address global movement of infectious diseases of animals. Together, these actions would reduce the risk of emerging infectious diseases entering the United States, offer greater protection to citizens from zoonotic diseases, and protect American biodiversity from losses due to wildlife diseases.

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About the Author

Dr. Karen Lips is Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland. She is an ecologist who studies how global change affects biodiversity, especially in Latin American and the United States. Dr. Lips was a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, a AAAS Leshner Leadership Public Engagement Fellow, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Ecological Society of America, and the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program.