On September 18, the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 2245, the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act, or CECIL ACT, largely on a party- line vote.
Following a legislative hearing in late July, the Natural Resources Committee advanced this highly partisan legislation which, among many other things, seeks to limit the importation of legally harvested game trophies from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia despite the fact these countries have some of the most robust populations of game species in the world. In fact, some of these countries are actively working to reduce excess wildlife populations due to factors such as carrying capacity and human-wildlife conflicts. For example, Zimbabwe recently announced the country will sell elephants to “anyone who wants wildlife” as the country currently has an elephant population of nearly 85,000 animals, but biological assessments indicate that it is only able to accommodate roughly 50,000 animals.
This legislation also ignores the value of strategic international partnerships through the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which consists of 183 countries, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These parties agree that legal, ethical, and well-regulated hunting is fundamentally important to conserving iconic species such as elephant, leopard, lion, white and black rhino, and other international species.
By prioritizing and advancing H.R. 2245, the Committee is ignoring the input of host countries and local African communities who will be impacted the most by this legislation. The nuances of the on-the-ground, local benefits of international hunting are often lost in these discussions, which leads to short-sighted, and emotionally driven legislation such as H.R. 2245.
Prior to the Committee hearing in July and the passage of the bill last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) worked with Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members (CSC) to oppose the CECIL Act. Specifically, CSF President Jeff Crane submitted a statement for the record to the Committee prior to the hearing, as well as the markup, that highlighted the flaws of this legislation. CSF also sent numerous alerts to the CSC Members urging them to vote “no” on H.R. 2245. In late July, CSF and 33 other sporting-conservations joined a letter opposing this bill and its efforts to appease anti-hunting interests at the sake of professional scientific wildlife management.
The bill now awaits the scheduling of a floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, and CSF will continue to work to prevent this bill from moving any further in the legislative process.
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?