Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

House Democrats Target Trophy Hunting on Anniversary of Cecil’s Death

Animals
House Democrats Target Trophy Hunting on Anniversary of Cecil’s Death

By Taylor Hill

It's been nearly a year since an American hunter killed Cecil, an iconic lion in Zimbabwe. House Democrats are using the anniversary to question the premise that trophy hunting benefits Africa's endangered wildlife.

In a new report, Missing the Mark, the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Natural Resources charges that Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa are providing U.S. officials with little evidence that taxes and fees raised from trophy hunts targeting lions, leopards, elephants and rhinoceroses provide conservation benefits and have an overall net-positive impact on imperiled species.

Cecil at Hwange National Park in 2010. Photo credit: Wikimedia

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has the authority to grant a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to American trophy hunters wishing to bring animal trophies into the country, has too often supported nations' claims that the hunts enhance the survival of the species, the report charged.

“You can't make the assumption that these countries are using the funds for conservation. You have to have the proof," said Matt Strickland, a member of the committee's Democratic staff. “U.S. hunters are responsible for taking a lot of animal trophies from Africa and we want to make sure the Fish and Wildlife Service is doing its job in permitting trophy imports and Americans aren't contributing to the decline of certain species."

American hunters wishing to import the heads, horns, pelts or any other parts of animals they have killed overseas must request a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

If the animal has threatened or endangered species protections under the Endangered Species Act, the agency requires that the hunt enhance the survival of the species. The agency is responsible as well for managing U.S. compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which also regulates and permits the hunting of endangered species.

“On paper, all four countries examined have equally strong frameworks for ensuring that trophy hunts benefit species conservation," the authors wrote. “Unfortunately, the implementation of these frameworks has in many cases been marred by corruption and has not produced the advertised and desired results."

The Fish and Wildlife Service has sometimes turned a blind eye to these shortfalls and granted import permits for animals killed in these countries, said Strickland. “They accepted at face value that trophy hunting benefits wildlife conservation without drilling down and actually checking on individual cases," he said.

An agency spokesperson stated in an email that the agency is reviewing the report, adding, “By law, we cannot and will not allow trophies of certain protected species into the United States that were hunted in any nation whose conservation program fails to meet high standards for transparency, scientific management and effectiveness. If we have concerns about a country's management program or a species' population status, we will not issue permits."

One such case occurred in 2014, when the agency shut down imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania because of the species' marked population decline. “They also weren't providing any evidence that the hunts were benefiting conservation, so Fish and Wildlife stopped allowing it," Strickland said. “We'd like to see more of that type of decision making regularly."

That's the exception, not the norm, according to the report, which noted thousands of cases in which the Fish and Wildlife Service used special rules and loopholes to exempt hunters from permitting requirements for many species listed as endangered. The report authors found that between 2010 and 2014, the agency could have required permits for more than 2,700 hunting trophies imported to the county yet only required one, for a critically endangered black rhinoceros. Of 1,469 leopard trophies that could have mandated an import permit, the agency required none.

In other instances, such as the controversial baiting tactics that lured Cecil out of a protected area and led to his death at the hands of Walter Palmer, the trophy hunting industry isn't “playing by the rules," the report stated and “needs to be regulated and held accountable for there to be any hope of a consistent conservation benefit."

To help rein in the negative impacts of trophy hunting on wildlife, the report recommends that the Fish and Wildlife Service deny import requests from hunters convicted of wildlife violations, close loopholes that allow some trophies to be imported without a permit, collect more data on trophy hunting through the permitting process and increase permit fees to fund science and conservation.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Nepal's Extinct Bird Spotted After Disappearing for 178 Years

First Mammal Goes Extinct Due to Human-Caused Climate Change

World's First 'Spotty Dog' and Cow-Like Sheep Created Using Gene Editing

Is it Too Soon to Consider Removing Giant Pandas From the Endangered Species List?

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less
Monarch butterflies in Mexico's Oyamel forest in Michoacan, Mexico after migrating from Canada. Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images

By D. André Green II

One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.

Read More Show Less
The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on Sept. 17 introduced ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners, each intended to make people "laugh then think." Improbable Research / YouTube

The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch