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Representing Wildlife Whistleblowers: Technical Skills for Lawyers


March 28, 2017


Washington, DC (and webinar)

An ELI Public Seminar

There is a strong global movement to combat wildlife trafficking and protect endangered species from overexploitation and the United States is taking its international obligations and commitments seriously. In 2013, President Obama issued Executive Order 13648, recognizing wildlife trafficking as an “international crisis that continues to escalate.”  Whistleblowers play a crucial role in prosecuting wildlife traffickers. However, the majority of potential whistleblowers, in any situation, never come forward. Congress addressed this issue by creating whistleblower reward laws, the successes of which have been profound, strengthening the ability of the government to detect and prosecute crime. In total, whistleblower rewards laws have resulted in over $50 billion in fines and penalties and over $3.5 billion in compensation to whistleblowers. Both the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act include language providing monetary incentives to persons who disclose information about wildlife crimes, but these provisions have not been effectively implemented.

In this seminar, experts reviewed best practices for attorneys who seek to represent wildlife whistleblowers, and how these wildlife cases can be pursued through the Lacey Act, FCPA, FCA, and other laws that offer rewards for whistleblowers.

Brett Korte, Staff Attorney and Director, Associates Program, Environmental Law Institute (moderator)
Stephen M. Kohn, Co-founder & Executive Director, National Whistleblower Center
John T. Webb, Independent member, Advisory Council to the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking

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