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New Trump Wildlife Services Appointee Worked for Trophy Hunting Lobby for 20 Years

Politics
A former lawyer for a trophy hunting group now works at Fish and Wildlife Service. Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images

President Donald Trump's controversial trophy hunting council may have been disbanded, but trophy hunters and their advocates still have influence at the Department of the Interior.


Anna Seidman, former lawyer for pro-hunting group Safari Club International (SCI), is now the assistant director of the Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) International Affairs program, HuffPost reported Friday.

During her 20 years of work for SCI, Seidman sued FWS several times and testified before Congress that hunters should have greater access to Alaskan wildlife, according to Earther. But she will now be in charge of a program designed to protect endangered species around the world.

"I'm not quite sure how this will happen with someone in charge who's advocated against stripping creatures of these protections," Earther's Yessenia Funes wrote.

Funes pointed out that Seidman's appointment is in keeping with other Trump administration hiring decisions, such as the choice of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seidman's new boss David Bernhardt was also a controversial hire who has so many conflicts of interests he has to keep a notecard on hand to keep track of them.

In an email to HuffPost, an FWS spokesperson called Siedman "an effective, innovative leader with 20 years of legal and policy experience, including expertise in international environment and natural resource management."

Those 20 years were gained at SCI, where Siedman worked from 1999 to 2019 as director of legal advocacy and international affairs, according to her LinkedIn profile.

But SCI's influence in the Trump administration predates Siedman. Bernhardt, in addition to lobbying on behalf of oil and gas interests, also counted SCI's sister organization Safari Club International Foundation as a former client, HuffPost reported. SCI donated $11,000 to Trump's 2016 campaign and was one of the lobbying forces behind the rule change allowing the importation of elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. It also auctioned off a hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr. in February, and SCI President Paul Babaz was a member of administration's disbanded trophy-hunting council, according to The Hill.

SCI was founded in 1972 and has more than 50,000 members. It bills itself as "protecting hunters' rights and promoting wildlife conservation," according to HuffPost.

But a 2015 report from the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International found that the group had contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of animals in its 60 years of hunting contests, CBS News reported. That includes 2,000 lions, 1,800 leopards, nearly 800 elephants and 93 black rhinos, the report found.

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