January 25, 2021

New York, Connecticut Bills Ignore African Self-Determination

Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Senior Coordinator

African species trophy import bans have recently been introduced in New York (Assembly Bill 716 and Assembly Bill 805) and Connecticut (Senate Bill 62), further evidence that imperialist viewpoints continue to influence domestic policy here in the United States. It is disconcerting, to say the least, that legislators in New York and Connecticut apparently believe that they have a better grasp of the geopolitical landscape in Africa, as well as the proper methods for African game management, than the citizens of African nations do themselves.

In 2016, New Jersey made the unwise and costly decision to enact similar legislation (Senate Bills 977 and 978) that targeted lawfully harvested hunting trophies and banned the importation and possession of items from “Big 5” species by residents of the State. A lawsuit was promptly filed under the argument that the ban was preempted by Section 6(f) of the Endangered Species Act. That same year, a judgment was entered against the State, thus overturning the ban. Similarly, in 2018, California’s former Governor Edmund G. Brown vetoed legislation that attempted to institute the Iconic African Species Protection Act. In the former Governor’s veto message, he stated that despite sharing “the sentiments of the author, this bill, if enacted, would be unenforceable.”

These bills also fail to consider the consequences of undermining the source of funding for anti-poaching programs and the many rural communities that are reliant on hunting-related tourism dollars. Revenue generated by licensed, regulated safari hunting is the single most important source of funding for conservation and anti-poaching efforts in Africa. In many Southern and Eastern African countries, revenues generated from licensed, regulated hunting are the primary source of management, conservation, and anti-poaching funds for national wildlife authorities.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has a long history of successful engagement in this area and has repeatedly worked to defeat these misguided and elitist efforts in both states in recent years. We will continue to engage in the session ahead and stand firmly in our belief in self-determination for African nations in the management of their wildlife resources.

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?

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