Assam-born wildlife biologist Shristi Kamal is the brain behind an important anti-poaching and wildlife conservation bill in Oregon State in the US.
The bill, HB 2841 was passed in the legislative session of 2019 in Oregon State to protect sensitive wildlife location data that is currently collected and monitored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Shristi works for Defenders of Wildlife in Oregon in the US, as a Senior Northwest Representative.
Defenders of Wildlife is a national wildlife conservation organization in the US that works to protect imperiled and native species, and their habitats.
As the Senior Representative, Shristi is at the forefront of all wildlife policy and conservation issues in Oregon State.
Because of Shristi’s initiative, the data now removed from the public domain, and anyone can request for such information through public records request and ODFW would hold such if it requested through public records request.
Passing wildlife conservation bill in the US is always an uphill struggle, because most legislators use it as a trading card to other means and goals.
But, Shristi spearheaded the advocacy efforts to get the bill through the Oregon House of Representatives and then the Oregon Senate.
The bill went through the House Committee on Natural Resources and passed the House Floor with 56-3 votes.
Then it went to the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. And once it was passed by the Committee, it went on the Senate Floor, where it was passed with 18-12 vote support.
Subsequently, the bill went back to the House again to concur Senate amendments and finally passed the House again with 46-13 votes.
Shristi also collaborated with different stakeholders, including those who were often seen as being “on the other side of the aisle” such as ranchers, hunters and farm lobbyists.
The bill initially faced strong contention from powerful lobbying groups that wanted such data to remain accessible to all.
But, Shristi managed to work with legislators in both Houses and got it passed through a very contentious and turbulent legislative session in Oregon.
This is a major electoral victory for wildlife and anti-poaching efforts in the Oregon State.
Poaching is a growing concern in Oregon, and the bill was a critical step toward curbing the problem.
The new law, if successful, would protect sensitive information such as radio collar data and frequency, location of denning/nesting/spawning sites of vulnerable wildlife species.
So far, wildlife of all species was vulnerable as people had access to their real time location as well as location of sensitive habitats.
Shristi Kamal could probably achieve what was required to protect the vulnerable wildlife of Oregon because she was born in Assam.
She grew up with the rich natural diversity and wildlife around her. It was her love for wildlife and to see them thrive that drove her commitment to wildlife conservation.
Shristi has a BSc degree in Zoology, a master’s degree in Environmental Studies and a doctorate in Ecology.
Her focus in the conservation field started in natural sciences, but she found her niche in wildlife policy and human dimensions of conservation.
Shristi works with government agencies, policy makers, local communities and other conservation organizations to protect key species like gray wolves, marbled murrelet and Orcas.
She also advocates for wildlife habitat connectivity issues, and get local communities engaged in conservation through community science.