On July 18, the House Natural Resources Committee (Committee) held a hearing on H.R. 2245, the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act, a bill that is adamantly opposed by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
Prior to this hearing, CSF President Jeff Crane submitted a statement for the record to the Committee in opposition to this bill. CSF also played a leading role in developing and circulating a community sign-on letter to the American Wildlife Conservation Partners that resulted in 33 sporting-conservation organizations joining a letter of opposition of the bill, which was also submitted for the record. Furthermore, CSF sent an alert to Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members who serve on the Committee urging them to oppose this partisan legislation.
This short-sighted, emotionally-driven legislation seeks to limit the importation of legally harvested game trophies. While this legislation is primarily intended to target African species, it will have much broader implications as it would apply to any federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or species proposed for listing in any foreign country, even those that have recovered due to hunting conservation programs such as the Markhor in Asia and Wood Bison in Canada. Section 2 of H.R. 2245 will remove any distinction between the Federal ESA and listing categories for the purposes of importation, which would result in the ESA treating species at risk of extinction (endangered) the same as a species that is likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future (threatened). This revision conflicts directly with Section 4(d) of the ESA, which allows the Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop species-specific regulations that will allow for the most impactful strategies to conserve threatened species.
This legislation will limit the importation of legally hunted elephant and lion trophies from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, despite the fact that these countries have some of the most robust elephant and lion populations in the world.
Without taking into account the economic and societal benefits of international hunting, this legislation ignores the input of the host countries and local communities that would be impacted the most by limiting the importation of trophies to the United States. Legal, ethical, sustainable, fair chase hunting is the basis on which the conservation of wildlife and associated habitat has been built in Africa for decades.
H.R. 2245 now awaits further action in the Committee.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?