August 29, 2022

This Year’s Efforts in Fighting Restrictive Trophy Import Bans

Contact: Joe Mullin, Manager, Northeastern States

Why It Matters: CSF has a tenured history of opposing efforts to curb the import of certain African species, commonly referred to as the “Big Five.” Discouraging hunting in Africa encourages poaching and cripples the anti-poaching programs that legally regulated hunting supports. Revenue generated by licensed, regulated safari hunting is the single most important source of funding for conservation and anti-poaching efforts in Africa. For these reasons and many more, CSF will continue to dedicate itself towards protecting the rights of sportsmen and women to import legally harvested parts and products from African species.

CSF has long supported legal, regulated hunting in African nations. There has been a recent rise in efforts to restrict the import of certain African species – a move that would unduly punish legal hunting in African nations, deflecting necessary funding for anti-poaching programs, while also financially crippling rural communities that are in great need of the economic support. This year has been no exception, and CSF has worked throughout the states to oppose these bans.

In Maryland, House Bill 52 and Senate Bill 381 – two bans on the importation of certain African species – were signed into law. CSF engaged partner organizations on these bills, but language embedded in the text of the legislation created carveouts for sportsmen and women. Both bills have exceptions for “activity expressly authorized by federal law,” thus, providing air cover for the import of parts and products from legally harvested African game. This language mirrors what was signed into law last year in Connecticut, in which a highly restrictive trophy import ban was favorably amended after coordinated efforts between CSF and the Connecticut Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.

As was previously reported out of New York, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to Senate Bill 2814 – legislation that would prohibit the import, sale, and possession of parts or products made from African elephant, leopard, lion, black and white rhinoceros, and giraffe. The bill cleared the Senate in May but failed to move prior to the adjournment of regular sessions.

At the federal level, CSF led efforts with partner organizations in submitting a sign-on letter to leadership of the House Appropriations Committee in opposition to the inclusion of Section 439 in the Fiscal Year 2023 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This language would prohibit the importation of legally hunted elephant or lion trophies from Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe by restricting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from using federal funds to issue import permits for these species.

On June 23, CSF hosted a virtual webinar alongside panelists from Safari Club International, Dallas Safari Club, and Shepherds of Wildlife, for an educational discussion about legal, regulated African hunting, as well as recent state and federal efforts to undermine these opportunities.

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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