University of Minnesota
A report in 2011 by Global Financial Integrity ranks wildlife black markets as the fifth most lucrative in the world, while some experts claim it may rank third after drugs and arms trafficking. The same established supply chains and transportation networks used to smuggle drugs, arms, and humans frequently serve as conduits for wildlife, and crimes today often involve organized corruption, money laundering, and exchange for other forms of contraband. Thus, widespread wildlife crime may significantly undermine national interests and security at home and abroad. Realistic threats include organized crime; risks posed to human, animal and ecosystem health; and the potential direct or indirect (through financing etc.) threat of terrorism. Simply stated, the goal of this proposed work is to undertake a risk -based feasibility study to characterize the threat that wildlife trade poses to the (US) food supply, and the degree to which wildlife trade pathways present an opportunity for the enhancement of crime and terror in the United States. Wildlife importation data (formal and informal) in the US will be analyzed to identify the main species being traded into the country, including their likely origins, volumes, routes, purpose of entry, and intended disposition. Points of origin will also be explored for level of corruption and potential relationship to other forms of illegal trafficking. A risk prioritization tool will be developed to rank the pathways that pose the highest threat to the US food supply. Complete pathways for the introduction and transmission of the hazard to food production livestock will be characterized, from exotic animal origin to final disease transmission. Risk pathways, assessment of available data, and risk mitigation scenarios (and gaps) will be outlined and prioritized for further investigation.