Yesterday, CNN published a column from me about the confusing message sent by the U.S. government in taking action to fight the elephant ivory trade but still allowing trophy hunters to bring in ivory tusks from a number of African countries.
The good news is, two African nations – Botswana and Zambia – have recently banned trophy hunting, stopping Americans and hunters of other nationalities from killing animal species that are already in peril as a consequence of a surge in poaching for the ivory trade. What’s more, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has banned imports, at least temporarily, of trophy tusks from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. These are all very positive moves. We hope the United States does not backtrack on these actions, and instead continues to restrict all trade in ivory, including imports by trophy hunters.
The United States is also in the thick of an urgent fight over the trophy hunting of polar bears – a species even more scarce than African or Asian elephants. A federal bill known as the Sportsmen’s Act, S. 2363, is set to come up in the full Senate soon after the July 4th recess. This bill is chock full of horrible provisions, including one that would allow American trophy hunters to import the heads and hides of polar bears they’ve previously shot in Canada, even though polar bears are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The bill would also prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the use of lead ammunition by sport hunters, and it would establish sport hunting as a priority use of federal lands.
The fact is, trophy hunters are still creating havoc with threatened species, fighting the overdue and logical transition to non-toxic ammunition, and seeking advantages over all other recreationists on our public lands. They’ve just gone too far, and it’s time for animal advocates to speak up. We urge you to call your two U.S. Senators and express opposition to S. 2363, the Sportsmen’s Act.