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Animal Defenders International : Conservation & Wildlife : Speak out against international trophy hunting!

Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Speak out against international trophy hunting!

Posted: 7 March 2018. Updated: 2 October 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 announced at a March 16 public meeting of USFWS’ inaptly named 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.

Update, September 2018

The US Fish and Wildlife Services’ International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC) will hold a public meeting September 26-27, 2018 to discuss its boldly stated directive to promote and enable international trophy hunting and trophy hunting imports into the US. IWCC relies upon an unproven and controversial premise of claimed benefit that ignores well-demonstrated links between trophy hunting and illicit trafficking, and the increasing incidence of global criminal networks making use of trophy hunting avenues to further their trade.

The US is the world’s largest trophy importer, though 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 iconic, threatened species. The taxpayer-funded IWCC ignores increasing scientific evidence of negative impact and a majority of Americans’ opposition to trophy hunting. This ill-conceived council gives a small, but wealthy, well-connected, and powerful trophy hunting lobby an exclusive, front-row seat to direct national policymaking on threatened species.

For all its claims, trophy hunting has failed to protect wildlife against the escalating threats to their survival. Indeed, many species have suffered a staggering decline over the last century. The evidence shows 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 of game farming and trophy hunting.

There are now well-documented links between the legal trade related to trophy hunting and illicit wildlife trafficking; the movement of trophies across borders has been shown to provide avenues and cover for criminal networks dealing in illegal products. Rhino horn, for example, has been shown to come through the US as trophy hunting imports, only for the horns to be removed during taxidermy, and replaced with false horns, permitting the horn to enter illicit trade. Lion bone trade is also on the rise - 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 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,” describing current permitting as “arbitrary, confusing, and not based on sound science.” Shockingly, taxpayers cover “92% of all permit fees,” “subsidizing” trophy hunting,

See below to comment regarding the Council’s stated pro-trophy hunting “duties” and false presumptions, which include, among other things:

a) Developing a plan for public engagement and education on the benefits of international hunting;
b) Reviewing and making recommendations for changes, when needed, on all Federal programs and/or regulations, to ensure support of hunting as:
i. An enhancement to foreign wildlife conservation and survival, and
ii. An effective tool to combat illegal trafficking and poaching.

c) Recommending strategies to benefit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s permit office in receiving timely country data and information so as to remove barriers that impact consulting with range states;
d) Recommending removal of barriers to the importation into the United States of legally hunted wildlife;
e) Ongoing review of import suspension/bans and providing recommendations that seek to resume the legal trade of those items, where appropriate;
f) Reviewing seizure and forfeiture actions/practices, and providing recommendations for regulations that will lead to a reduction of unwarranted actions;
g) Reviewing the Endangered Species Act’s foreign listed species and interaction with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, with the goal of eliminating regulatory duplications; and
h) Recommending methods for streamlining/expediting processing of import permits.

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

Take action today!

  • 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.

To call or email:
Cade London, Policy Advisor
(703) 358–2584 or 1-800-877-8339
iwcc@fws.gov

To attend in person: the meeting will be held September 26 (1-5pm ET) and September 27 (8:30am-5:30pm ET), at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Headquarters Building, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803, with the following draft agenda:
1.Presentations made by conservation and sport hunting experts and government officials
2.Administrative topics; and
3.Public comment and response.


Letter template

Cade London
Policy Advisor, USFWS
(703) 358–2584 or 1-800-877-8339
iwcc@fws.gov

RE September 2018 Public meeting - International Wildlife Conservation
Council

Mr. London:

I write in response to the notice of public meeting of the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC). IWCC is taxpayer-funded, yet its described purpose - to expand and enable international trophy hunting and US trophy hunting imports – ignores increasing scientific evidence of negative impact and a majority of Americans’ opposition to such practices. IWCC uses tax dollars and relies upon an unproven, controversial premise to promote an industry where the US is already, by far, the world’s largest hunting trophy importer.

Despite repeated claims of conservation benefit, trophy hunting has utterly failed to protect wildlife against the escalating threats to their survival. Indeed, many species have suffered a staggering decline over the last century. The evidence also shows the claimed financial benefits of trophy hunting to local communities are largely exaggerated, and bear little actual connection to conservation, whereas eco-tourism was found to generate substantial economic benefit in direct earnings, >15 times that for game farming and trophy hunting.

There are now well-documented links between the legal trade related to trophy hunting and illicit wildlife trafficking; the movement of trophies across borders has been shown to provide avenues and cover for criminal networks dealing in illegal products. Rhino horn, for example, has been shown to come through the US as trophy hunting imports, only for the horns to be removed during taxidermy, and replaced with false horns, permitting the horn to enter illicit trade. Lion bone trade is also on the rise - 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 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,” describing current permitting as “arbitrary, confusing, and not based on sound science.” Shockingly, taxpayers cover “92% of all permit fees,” “subsidizing” trophy hunting,

I urge USFWS to refocus IWCC’s taxpayer-funded operations upon conservation practices that are scientifically supported and sustainable, so we may save these species, before it’s too late.

Sincerely,

© Animal Defenders International 2019