Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Speak out against international trophy hunting!

Posted: 7 March 2018. Updated: 8 March 2018

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On March 1, 2018, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced it would now consider US trophy hunting imports on a case-by-case basis. In its statement, USFWS cited a 2017 DC Circuit ruling that findings supporting a 2014 elephant trophy import ban were invalid because, like this latest announcement and other similar 2017 pro-trophy hunting rule changes, USFWS failed to follow federal mandates for public notice and comment.

USFWS Principal Deputy Director and longtime Safari Club International member Greg Sheehan recently announced a March 16 public meeting of USFWS’ International Wildlife Conservation Council, established to promote and enable international trophy hunting and trophy hunting imports into the US. The Council’s pretext is an unproven premise of benefit, ignoring well-demonstrated links between trophy hunting and illicit trafficking. This policy direction ignores the uniquely US role as the world’s largest trophy importer, stimulating demand to perpetuate the devastation of wildlife trafficking.

See below to speak out - BEFORE the March 12 deadline - against the Council’s pro-trophy hunting proposals to:

1) Develop public education espousing the benefits of international trophy hunting;
2) Review and recommend changes in all Federal programs and regulations to ensure support of trophy hunting as (a) an enhancement to wildlife conservation and survival; and (b) an effective tool to combat illegal trafficking and poaching;
3) Recommend removal of barriers to import hunting trophies into the US;
4) Review and recommend an end to current hunting trophy import suspensions / bans;
5) Review and recommend reducing ‘unwarranted’ seizure and forfeiture actions / practices;
6) Review CITES and US Endangered Species Act’s foreign listed species, to eliminate regulatory ‘duplications’ (though US species listing has long referenced CITES listing for guidance on listing determinations); and
7) Recommend methods to expedite trophy hunting import permits.

ADI and many of our supporters opposed the establishment of the pro-trophy hunting council.

The claimed financial benefits of trophy hunting to local communities are largely exaggerated, and bear little actual connection to conservation. In 2013, Economists at Large reported “hunting companies contribute only 3% of their revenue to communities living in hunting areas.” By comparison, eco-tourism has been found to generate substantial economic benefit in direct earnings, more than 15 times that for game farming and trophy hunting.

What has been shown, however, is the potential link between trophy hunting and wildlife trafficking. Trophy hunting provides avenues and cover for illicit trafficking; for example, lion bone trade is on the rise, as skeletons obtained via canned hunting operations have stirred market demand, with related spikes in poaching of both wild and captive lion populations.

A 2016 US House report identified negative impacts of trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa, finding “many troubling examples of funds either being diverted from their purpose or not being dedicated to conservation in the first place,” and “no merit to claims that hunting deters poaching.” describing current permitting to be “arbitrary, confusing, and not based on sound science.” Shockingly, taxpayers cover “92% of all permit fees,” “subsidizing” trophy hunting.

Hunters comprise only 5% of the US population - down 1.5 million between 1996-2006 (while wildlife watching increased 13%) and another 2 million between 2011-2016 - and not all domestic hunters support international trophy hunting of endangered species. Through this ill-conceived Council, the powerful trophy hunting lobby has a front row seat to direct national policymaking on threatened species.

Take action today!

  • BEFORE March12, please call or email USFWS, using the template letter below, and join ADI in opposing efforts to promote and expand international trophy hunting.

  • Sign up to receive our email updates and news.


Letter template

Joshua Winchell
Council Designated Federal Officer
USFWS
(703) 358-2639
iwcc@fws.gov

RE Call for comments on proposals to be considered at the March 16 public meeting of the International Wildlife Conservation Council

Mr Winchell:

The US is the world’s largest trophy importer, yet it has failed to protect wildlife against the escalating threats to their survival. Indeed, many species have suffered a staggering decline over the last century.

Trophy hunting provides avenues and cover for illicit trafficking; for example, lion bone trade is on the rise, as skeletons obtained via canned hunting operations have stirred market demand, with related spikes in poaching of both wild and captive lion populations. Rhino horn has been shown to enter illicit trade, via trophy hunting imports into the US; the horns are removed during taxidermy and replaced with false horns, which then enter trafficking networks.

The claimed financial benefits of trophy hunting to local communities are largely exaggerated, and bear little actual connection to conservation, whereas eco-tourism has been found to generate substantial economic benefit.

A 2016 US House report identified the negative impacts of trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa, finding “many troubling examples of funds either being diverted from their purpose or not being dedicated to conservation in the first place,” and “no merit to claims that hunting deters poaching.” and current permitting as “arbitrary, confusing, and not based on sound science,” Shockingly, taxpayers cover “92% of all permit fees,” “subsidizing” trophy hunting.

The taxpayer-funded International Wildlife Conservation Council and its proposals described in the March 16 meeting notice, which seek to expand and enable US trophy hunting imports, ignore increasing scientific evidence of negative impact and a majority of Americans’ opposition to such practices.

I urge USFWS to instead focus upon conservation practices that are scientifically supported and sustainable, to save these species, before it’s too late.

Sincerely

© Animal Defenders International 2018