Trophy Imports and Hunting Contests in the Empire State’s Crosshairs

Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager

  • On May 3, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted testimony in New York regarding two policy priorities: a trophy import ban and a prohibition on hunting tournaments.
  • CSF opposed Senate Bill 2814 (S. 2814), which poses to prohibit the import, sale, and possession of parts or products made from African elephant, leopard, lion, black and white rhinoceros, and giraffe.
    • The Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation held a public hearing for S. 2814 on May 3, wherein the bill passed by a vote of 9-2.
  • CSF also submitted a letter of opposition  for Assembly Bill 5746 (A. 5746), which would make it unlawful for individuals to organize, sponsor, conduct, promote, or participate in any hunting contest, competition, tournament, or derby for prizes or entertainment.
    • The Standing Committee on Codes held a public hearing for A. 5746 on May 3, wherein it was reported out and awaits a third reading in the Assembly.

Why it Matters: Legislative attempts to curb the import of certain African species, commonly referred to as the “Big Five,” serves no purpose other than to 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. CSF has fought against these anti-sportsmen’s efforts across the nation, but ever increasing in the northeast. Related, CSF has opposed attempts to ban hunting contests, which ultimately usurp rulemaking authority from the recognized fish and wildlife experts of the state and eliminate a potentially useful wildlife management tool that deals with localized issues of overabundance.

On March 3, CSF submitted oppositional testimony in the Empire State – one letter opposing efforts that would prohibit the import, sale, and possession of parts or products made from six African species, and a second letter opposing a ban on contests for taking wildlife. Senate Bill 2814, referred to as the “Big Five African Trophies Act,” was heard in the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation and reported out favorably by a vote of 9-2. Assembly Bill 5746, which would amend the Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit hunting contests for prizes or entertainment, was reported out of Committee and is currently awaiting a third reading in the Assembly.

As CSF highlighted in its letter of opposition for S. 2814, 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. In many southern and eastern African countries, revenues generated from legal hunting are the primary source of management, conservation, and anti-poaching funds for national wildlife authorities. Preventing hunters from importing harvested animals is intended to discourage them from hunting in Africa at all, thus, depriving African wildlife authorities and communities of essential income. Additionally, without the financial and game meat contributions from legal hunting, local communities have little incentive to protect game, which is otherwise viewed as a nuisance or threat.

In CSF’s letter opposing A. 5746, it argued that the bill is seeking to legislatively manage wildlife, thereby circumventing Division of Fish and Wildlife’s (DFW) science-driven regulatory processes. Should there be a need to alter the current practices related to hunting tournaments, the DFW is the appropriate entity to do so, and it would utilize the best biological and sociological data available, relying on the existing rulemaking process that is inclusive of public input and comments.

CSF will continue to engage on both policies and will provide updates as they are made available.

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