Illegal government advisory panel touts ‘benefits’ of trophy hunting

By on October 18, 2019 with 21 Comments

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.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. JOHN & Shirley VALNEY says:

    This is just obscene. How disgusting that people are so pathetic and vile with regard to their treatment of innocent creatures.

  2. George Smith says:

    Trump’s sons recommended half their hunting buddies onto this council. Go take a gander at Camp Fire Club, too.

  3. Susan libby says:

    This tired same argument, namely that wildlife advocates are all ” emotional” and that our arguments are all based on ” emotion” is nothing but a dog Whistle which is repeated again and again by those who wish to claim all forms of life with four and four legs as THEIRS and THEIRs alone to do with ad they damn well please.
    I was personally accused of this by members of the AZ Fish and Game Board of Supervisors when I presented arguments opposed to Predator Killing Contests. It seems they have very little left in their ammo kit other than to use the words emotion and emotional over and over again.

  4. Adolf from Africa says:

    The amount of factual error and emotional bias in this article is incredible. Wildlife in South Africa (where I am from ) has surged since the 1989 law was put in place making wildlife on private land private property of the landowner. Why? Because they have value. People protect things of value.

    Here is a quick question: IF it was true that “trophy hunting” is causing the extinction of the species, how is it that the number of trophy hunters and hunting operators has grown exponentially in Southern Africa? If there are fewer animals, then it is physically impossible for there to be more hunters, because there are no more animals. And if you want to argue that they are declining and just hasn’t gone extinct yet, then what businessman in this world would allow their “product” to disappear from the planet? Then he has no business left…

    Just think & be logical – the facts will then reveal itself.

    I’ve personally hunted over 100 trophy-quality antelope this year alone and ate every single one of them. They where delicious.

    • Carlos Pantone says:

      Hunting antelope and eating it is different than paying large sums of money to kill an animal for its horns/antlers or face to be mounted on a wall; or skinned for a rug. The members of the IWCC and the members cited in the elite hunting organizations above hunt because they get sick pleasure from killing animals; they find joy showing off their kills with the other sick weirdos in their tribe. This is not conservation! It is killing for kicks! The trophy hunters in this post believe they are above the law. They use money to influence politicians because they are not grounded in reality. They are entitled and need to be jailed.

      They must be stopped.

      • Richard Lasseter; PhD says:

        As a hi-power rifle builder and shooting enthusiast, I agree. If you must kill and eat a cow (or pig), then hunting, shooting and killing an antelope is no worse than that. But we’re talking about killing for pure pleasure here … especially when it comes to sentient animals like elephants. Yes, IMO … that’s a pretty sick “pleasure”.

    • John. Bour says:

      Why are the numbers of tigers in the wild decreasing then? Is it all about the pursuit of the very last tiger?

    • Barbara D. says:

      You are delusional.
      This seems to be only logical in your mind.
      The Earth , and all that is alive, Energy, is Created by a nameless
      No Words, we who are Human beings who have respect for All Living things,
      do not murder animals for sport, just because the animal is on your land.
      Land is really Not owned by anyone.
      We are supposed to be Care takers of this Planet.
      How very self absorbed you are.
      I feel sorry for all of you trophy hunters.
      You see with Blind eyes.

  5. Starla Curl says:

    Thanks to the Humane Society of the US and A Humane World for bringing this to our attention. Thank you for what you do!

  6. Mia laker says:

    This is both corrupt and obscene .
    This is of-course about greed and money and nothing whatsoever about conservation
    Trophy hunting has no place in the twenty first century and something drastic must be done before we loose our wildlife
    We are all aware that they are not preserving Animals , money or very little of it goes to helping the indigenous people and the meat of their kills don’t feed a village for a month So my question is why are these corrupt members allowed to have anything to do with this forum

  7. Gill says:

    This is rediculously Biassed!!!
    These beautiful creatures need protecting by people who actually care about them… And Not!!!! Those that are for Murdering and driving these animals into extinction!
    Absolute mockary of the system.. This needs changing Now!!

  8. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Diese Menschen sind Verbrecher und gehören eingesperrt und bestraft.So kann man nicht mit den Tieren umgehen.Es ist abscheulich und menschenunwürdig!!!!!!

  9. Adrienne says:

    Thank you so much, HSUS, for legally challenging this pathetic group of selfish people. It is disgraceful that they have no regard for wildlife.

  10. Susan Trout says:

    It is indeed disturbing to see grown men (and women!) gloat and smile over the once-vibrant bodies of rapidly disappearing creatures. One has to wonder what goes on in the minds of these….people??? Imagine serial killers or child abusers taking photos of their gruesome deeds and smiling in the photos. Different you say? How so? If trophy hunters had to undergo psychological counseling, they’d fail the tests. They are deeply disturbed and one day my theory will be proven! Stop this madness now. People are more than willing to pay good money to visit Africa and see wildlife as it should be–free and WILD, without the tyrannical hand of man’s ugly interference.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Those 2 pictured above are assholes. Really, what purpose was served by killing a beautiful lion?

    Jail trophy hunters!

  12. Gail says:

    I like my President, but I’ve got to say, I’ve been helping for years and years to keep Trophy Hunters from getting their animal – #1, and then to ship it back to the states. There’s nothing right about hunting down an endangered animal. How is our next generation ever going to appreciate something that’s no longer here.

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