Thurs – 8/2: Killing Cecil.

(Updated 8/3/2018)
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 05: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesters hold pictures of Cecil the Lion as they stand in front of the Department of Interior building to protest against the importing of wild game killed as trophies August 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. Peta is calling on the Fish and Wildlife Service to take steps to end cruel trophy hunting by listing lions as a threatened species and banning the importation of their heads, tails, and skins into the U.S.

Action – We can’t stop them from killing things but we can make it less fun.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued more than three dozen permits for hunters to bring back lion trophy parts from Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2016-2018, and More than half of those hunters donated to Republican lawmakers or have ties to hunting advocacy group Safari Club International.  The Trump administration is prompt in rewarding its supporters while putting a vulnerable species at risk.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep./Senator [___] to bring an end to lion trophy import permits and to investigate whether the hunting-industry majority of the International Wildlife Conservation Council violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: email (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Contacts: https://hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com

Background

Killing Cecil was really expensive. Traveling across the world to see Africa’s animals in the wild is an costly proposition. To kill one is even more expensive, as a “trophy” tax must be paid for each dead animal, which is supposedly used for conservation efforts. We sprinkled a sampling in amongst our background report to give you a rough idea of what each kind is worth. (POA stands for “Price on application”)

dangerous game.jpeg

Killing animals for their own good: In fact, that’s how the Trump family justified their own killing spree, with the much-repeated mantra that fees paid by hunters support conservation, provide meat to poor natives and keep them from poaching. The blood sacrifice of lions and elephants to fund their own survival as a species recalls Star Trek’s “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.

However, it’s not that simple. The population of Africa’s iconic animals is dropping fast with poaching, hunting and habitat loss and the money hunters pay is nowhere near enough for adequate conservation efforts.

For too long, trophy hunters have tried to justify their activity by falsely claiming that their killing helps local economies. As this new report shows, those claims are a sham. In the African countries studied, trophy hunting contributes virtually nothing to local economies or jobs, and is dwarfed in comparison to tourism overall, including eco-safaris reliant on the very animal species whose populations hunters decimate. It’s time to stop pretending that slaughtering big game and posing for morbid selfies by their slain bodies is anything more than killing for kicks.” (- Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist for Humane Society International)

girrafe

Trophy fees are a drop in the bucket: If hunters were shooting lions “for a million dollars and returning a million per lion directly into management, they would be on solid ground. But lions are shot for tens of thousands of dollars, and very little of that money goes back to conservation.”, says American lion biologist Craig Packer. Even adding in the amount raised by photo safaris, foreign wildlife-centric tourism falls way below the two billion dollars a year needed to save and protect the wildlife in Africa’s national parks, Packer says. That will probably have to come from international partners such as the World Bank, eco-philanthropists, and nongovernmental organizations.

zebra

Move along… Nothing to see here: Trump, through his intermediary, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, made his decision to restart the permit process for lion parts based on advice from the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), a new advisory council formed in December 2017 to make recommendations to the Interior secretary while “increasing public awareness domestically regarding the conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting.” Oddly specific and very disturbing.

This A-team is comprised of 16 members, including NRA representatives, celebrity hunting guides, representatives from rifle and bow manufacturers, and wealthy sportspeople who boast of bagging the coveted “Big Five” – elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo. In what surely should be illegal, one appointee, Peter Horn, ex-vice-president of the Safari Club International Conservation Fund and a vice-president for high-end gun-maker Beretta, co-owns a private New York hunting preserve with President Donald Trump’s adult sons. One of the two non-hunters is Terry Maple, a former director of the Atlanta zoo, who helped write “A Contract with the Earth” with Newt Gingrich. The other non-hunter is Jenifer Chatfield, a zoo and wildlife veterinarian professor whose father has been accused of diverting zoo animals to the private market, where they would become pets or stock private hunting ranches. She and her father operate a exotic animal facility in Dade City, Florida, which was cited during the escape and subsequent death of a kangaroo. Athough these council members aren’t being paid a salary, we, the taxpayers, will be paying for their travel expenses, staff time and other costs.

It is outrageous that the Department of the Interior is going to spend $250,000 per year to convene members of the trophy hunting industry to promote their own financial interests by developing methods to decrease protections for species threatened with extinction. This boondoggle violates federal law and impedes the agency’s duty to make wildlife trade decisions based on the best available science.” said Anna Frostic, a lawyer for the Humane Society.

A coalition of more than 20 environmental and animal welfare groups has objected that the one-sided makeup of the council may violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires government boards to be balanced in terms of points of view and not improperly influenced by special interests. In fact, just yesterday, it was reported that these groups are now suing the Interior Department.

bush pig

If all you have is a rifle, everything looks like Bambi’s mom“Since almost every member of the IWCC is involved with in the hunting industry, and their charter specifically mentions hunting, they will not be recommending serious conservation efforts directed by experts in preserving animals and their habitat that don’t involve killing animals somewhere along the way. If this is confusing to non-hunters, it’s because conservation and hunting are strongly intertwined in American history.

Hunting was a largely unregulated activity until the 1800’s, when people started wondering whether wildlife populations could continue at healthy levels without checks on unlimited killing. The response, begun in the 1860’s, was the creation of a set of principles, in which highly destructive commercial game hunting was formally banned in favor of private hunters and anglers. The principles were formally articulated in 2001 as the North American Model of Wildlife, In the press release announcing the creation of the council, Zinke praised this 19th century hunting-based conservation model, which contains the weasel phrase of all time – “Wildlife Should Only be Killed for a Legitimate Purpose” and whose focus is on …promoting hunting, justifying killing, and regulating take by law.

The model did help stop the wholesale slaughter that was occurring at the time of its inception but hunting has little to do with the proper management or conservation of wildlife species in the 21st century, at least according to the science the model also purports to respect. An article by professors and environmental scientists call the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation seriously flawed. They state “…it is wrong to conclude that hunting should play a central role in future conservation efforts simply because it has in the past.” In fact, since the 1960s, conservation efforts have been led by non-hunters and nature enthusiasts such as National Park visitors and bird-watchers. They also noted “that wildlife management conducted in the interest of hunters can lead to an overabundance of animals that people like to hunt, such as deer, and the extermination of predators that also provide a vital balance to the ecosystem.” We expect less retrograde nostalgia from a secretary of the interior.

There is no legitimate longterm hunting/conservation model for Africa. Ironically, even killing every last lion and elephant wouldn’t raise enough money to save them. It would be great if a taxpayer-supported group named the “International Wildlife Conservation Council” would actually be involved in raising and administering the funding necessary ($2 billion/year) to help support African habitat protection and renewal necessary to stabilize their animal populations.

At the very least, we need to work to deny the importation of the parts of diminishing threatened, and endangered species.

This video shows the results of one non-hunting experiment in conservation.

(Pipe dream – Instead of wasting millions on Trump’s vanity military parade, and billions on an ineffective and environmentally destructive border wall, helping Africa sustain its iconic animal life for our great-grandchildren to enjoy seems a better deal.)

 

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