Recently, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus member Representative Steve Daines (MT) introduced the Lawful Ivory Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5052) which aims to stop over-regulation of legally owned ivory in the United States.
H.R. 5052 amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973 by continuing to protect and conserve elephants while protecting U.S. citizens from being penalized for possessing ivory products that have been in the U.S. for years. These products include pistol grips, shotgun beads, knife handles, family heirlooms, and rare musical instruments.
As stated in a press release from Rep. Daines’ office, this legislation “reverses the FWS [Fish and Wildlife Service] Director’s Order, which prohibits owners from selling or transporting items containing legal ivory, while doing little to prevent the illegal poaching of elephants.”
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane was also quoted in the release: “American hunters are the first and original conservationists and do more to conserve African elephants than anyone. We support this common sense legislation that allows Americans to keep our lawfully obtained ivory without the fear of being deemed instant criminals by the federal government.”
The issue of ivory over-regulation has gained traction in other legislation as well. Similar language included in the FY 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill summarizes that while protecting elephants and taking action against poaching is favorable to all, the FWS’s regulatory actions go too far when penalizing innocent U.S. citizens rather than focusing on the heart of the problem.
Related to the request to reverse the FWS Order banning items containing ivory, the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council sent a letter on July 23 to the Secretary of Interior and FWS Director requesting the FWS end the ban on importation of legally sport-hunted elephant trophies rather than penalizing sportsmen and women who actively participate in the conservation of elephants.
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?