Just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by a trophy hunter, House Democrats released a report today demonstrating that trophy hunting has done more harm than good in terms of conservation of threatened and endangered species, a position Friends of Animals has maintained for decades.
FoA was one of the first international organizations to challenge that regulated hunting can be a conservation tool. This report underscores our Wildlife Law Program’s goal—to end the importation into the U.S. of trophy hunted animals by 2020.
The new report by the Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee challenges claims by trophy-hunting advocates, finding little evidence that the money is being used to help threatened species, mostly because of rampant corruption in some countries and poorly managed wildlife programs. It concludes that trophy hunting may be contributing to the extinction of certain animals.
The 25-page House report, called “Missing the Mark,” says that while poaching remains the gravest threat to animals like lions, rhinoceroses and leopards, “trophy hunting also removes a significant number of animals from these rapidly declining populations.”
Because Americans bring home more trophies of protected species than hunters from any other country, some conservationists believe that the United States government has the responsibility and the leverage to force a change. The urgency for such change, however, can be largely credited to Cecil the lion.
We have been fighting against trophy hunting on a state level by working to pass Cecil’s Law, drafted by our Wildlife Law Program Director, in CT and NY. The law would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation in Connecticut and New York of the African elephant, lion, leopard, and black and white rhinos—all threatened and endangered species. While it continues to make its way through the New York legislature, it actually passed the CT Senate in April but didn’t get voted on in the House as time ran out because legislators were consumed by the budget. We hope to get it across the finish line in CT in upcoming legislative sessions.
We’re glad to see this issue being addressed by the federal government and will continue to encourage state lawmakers to take action against trophy hunting by introducing and supporting Cecil’s Law until a federal trophy hunting ban is in place.