Illegal government advisory panel touts ‘benefits’ of trophy hunting

By on October 18, 2019 with 1 Comment

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

It may be hard to believe that a group of celebrity and professional trophy hunters, a director of the National Rifle Association, and the president of the world’s largest trophy hunting group are advising our government on wildlife conservation. But that is exactly what the International Wildlife Conservation Council, a panel appointed by the Trump administration, is tasked with – a privilege they have exploited abundantly over the last two years to ensure that U.S. policy favors trophy hunters. This week, at the panel’s fifth meeting since it was created in 2017, it became clearer than ever that this group does not have the interests of animals – or the wishes of a majority of Americans – at heart.

Instead of spending their time considering the plethora of threats to African wildlife, which are driving many species to extinction, the members of the IWCC put on a pathetic display of ignorance, arrogance and manufactured “facts” to protect their own trophy hunting interests.

  • They ranted and railed – unjustifiably – against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for not issuing as many import permits for trophies of endangered and threatened species as they would like.
  • They criticized the Endangered Species Act, the bedrock U.S. law protecting at-risk wildlife, for getting in the way of trophy hunters importing their animal kills.
  • They aggressively questioned USFWS representatives for their agency’s support for giving giraffes international protection at the recent Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting. One council member went so far as to accuse the United States of making this policy decision based on “emotion” not science.
  • They repeated the tired old claim that trophy hunting acts as an incentive to local communities in Africa to protect wildlife while ignoring the well-documented corruption and mismanagement in the trophy hunting industry. In a recent example of such mismanagement, local community leaders in Zambia called for a halt to trophy hunting in the country because hunting revenues are not trickling down to their communities.
  • They harped time and again that Americans trophy hunting in Africa is at the heart of American culture and pushed the notion that American trophy hunting is a silver bullet guaranteed to solve development challenges in Africa. Trophy hunting, in fact, has very little benefit for African countries compared to ecotourism: of the at least eight African countries that allow trophy hunting, foreign trophy hunters make up less than 0.1% of tourists on average and they contribute 0.78% or less of the $17 billion in overall tourism spending in the studied countries. Trophy hunting tourism employment is only 0.76% or less of average direct tourism employment in study countries. A paper released this year estimated that wildlife tourism not related to trophy hunting generates $48 billion in revenues and supports 26 million jobs in Africa.

The group also failed to once acknowledge what multiple hunting industry reports and polls have shown in recent years – that 63-78% of Americans (including those associated with hunting communities) believe that trophy hunting is not an acceptable reason to hunt.

The IWCC symbolizes how far the United States has strayed from its position as a leader in wildlife conservation. Its very existence is illegal, because federal laws prohibit the establishment of advisory councils stocked with members who have political and financial interests in the agency action they’re influencing. The fact that the IWCC is mostly made up of trophy hunters and that one of them is the president of Conservation Force, which has filed dozens of applications on behalf of its trophy hunting clients to import body parts of at-risk animals like elephants, black rhinos, lions and other imperiled species, makes it more of a trophy hunting trade association than a public policy panel.

The Humane Society of the United States and our partners are now engaged in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the IWCC. To our staff who attended this two-day meeting, it was abundantly clear that in addition to its other flaws, this panel is just a small group of elitist hunters clinging desperately to a colonial-American culture even as most Americans have moved on to a better appreciation of the risks wildlife face in our world today. They bring no value to the Department of the Interior’s understanding of wildlife conservation and should not be granted exclusive opportunity to influence our government through a special advisory panel just so they themselves can continue to hunt down — for fun — animals who are fast vanishing from earth.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Shocking HSI investigation reveals terror, suffering of foxes and mink on Finland’s fur farms

By on October 17, 2019 with 3 Comments
Shocking HSI investigation reveals terror, suffering of foxes and mink on Finland’s fur farms

Every day, we are making groundbreaking advances in our fight against fur. Major fashion houses and retailers, from Gucci to Burlington, have gone fur-free and just last weekend, California became the first U.S. state to ban fur sales. But today, in a sad reminder of . . . 

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Snakes in India, dingoes in Australia, elephants in South Africa: HSI works globally to resolve human-wildlife conflicts

By on October 15, 2019 with 0 Comments
Snakes in India, dingoes in Australia, elephants in South Africa: HSI works globally to resolve human-wildlife conflicts

A 12-year-old student, on his way home from school in India, is bitten by a snake. He doesn’t realize what’s happened but collapses soon after and dies later that day at a hospital. Meanwhile, in Romania, conflicts with brown bears are increasing due to habitat . . . 

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Breaking news: California leads the nation by banning fur sales, bobcat trophy hunting

By on October 12, 2019 with 21 Comments
Breaking news: California leads the nation by banning fur sales, bobcat trophy hunting

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson Moments ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom made history by signing into law two landmark bills: one banning the sale and production of all new fur products in California, and another prohibiting the trophy hunting of bobcats in his state. California, . . . 

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Breaking news: European court upholds strong protections for wolves

By on October 11, 2019 with 2 Comments
Breaking news: European court upholds strong protections for wolves

Europe’s highest court has ruled that wolves in the European Union cannot be hunted, except in the rarest cases where member countries can prove there is no other option to end human-wolf conflict. The European Court of Justice ruling followed a challenge to a decision . . . 

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South Dakota will allow trophy hunters to kill 30 percent of its mountain lions

By on October 9, 2019 with 36 Comments
South Dakota will allow trophy hunters to kill 30 percent of its mountain lions

South Dakota has a notorious history of mismanaging its mountain lion population and playing into the hands of trophy hunters. In past years, the Mount Rushmore state has repeatedly increased its hunting quota for the animals, despite evidence that its lion population is on the . . . 

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Breaking news: Department of Justice defends federal cockfighting ban in Puerto Rico, Guam

By on October 8, 2019 with 1 Comment
Breaking news: Department of Justice defends federal cockfighting ban in Puerto Rico, Guam

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson The federal government has filed a brief strongly defending a law that would expand the ban on cockfighting in the United States to Puerto Rico, Guam and other U.S. territories. Cockfighters seeking to overturn the ban have challenged it . . . 

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HSVMA links veterinary professionals to animal welfare needs and programs

By on October 7, 2019 with 1 Comment
HSVMA links veterinary professionals to animal welfare needs and programs

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, is the nation’s only organization for veterinary professionals that focuses solely on animal welfare. The HSVMA contributes to the work we do every day, by bringing the important veterinary . . . 

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Gov. Inslee says killing wolves over livestock conflicts is not working for Washington

By on October 4, 2019 with 4 Comments
Gov. Inslee says killing wolves over livestock conflicts is not working for Washington

Wolves in northeastern Washington, under the gun because of reported conflicts with cattle ranchers, have found a powerful ally. This week, Gov. Jay Inslee weighed in on his state’s controversial killings of more than two dozen wolves in this region in recent years. In a . . . 

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Airbnb, TripAdvisor announcements herald progress for wild animals trapped in tourism industry

By on October 3, 2019 with 5 Comments
Airbnb, TripAdvisor announcements herald progress for wild animals trapped in tourism industry

Today, the New York Times reported on Airbnb’s new featured offering of “animal experiences,” which will have an ethical focus and will ban any direct contact with wild animals. The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by TripAdvisor, reported just yesterday, to stop . . . 

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Senator introduces bills to restrict private possession of big cats, primates

By on October 2, 2019 with 4 Comments
Senator introduces bills to restrict private possession of big cats, primates

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson Ten years ago, Americans were stunned by a pet chimpanzee’s vicious attack on a Connecticut woman, Charla Nash. The animal bit off Nash’s fingers and toes, tore off most of her face, and left her fighting for her life. . . . 

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HSUS videos cross 150 million views on YouTube

By on September 30, 2019 with 4 Comments
HSUS videos cross 150 million views on YouTube

One of the most effective ways we communicate with the public about the animals we help is through the power of visual storytelling. The use of video makes it possible for the public to see the plight of animals while also learning how they can . . . 

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