Leadership Grant

Risks of Importing Live Animals as Pets, Year 1

40,000 awarded to Wildlife Trust in

To hire Kate Smith as Senior Research Scientist with the Consortium for Conservation Medicine (CCM), Wildlife Trust, to oversee three projects, all aimed at preventing negative outcomes associated with the importation of live animals into the U.S.   Kate will work with CCM to build on an existing suite of projects started during her work with the organization over the past two years under her David H. Smith Conservation Fellowship. The three projects are as follows: (1) developing Conservation Care Sheets for the company PETCO on the conservation implications of pet ownership, particularly with regard to releasing exotic pets into the wild; (2) conducting risk assessments for live animal imports into the U.S. with an eye towards advocating for stricter regulation where appropriate; and (3) launching a program conceived by Kate during her Smith fellowship called PetWatch, a program which will give consumers an at-a-glance rating for which animal species are acceptable to have as pets and which to avoid and why. The environmental issue being addressed with all thre projects is the increasing problem of exotic animal releases into the wild in the U.S., presenting hazards to native wildlife and human health and well-being. Kate will be based at Brown University where she is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.