Animals

Trump’s ‘wildlife protection board’ is stacked full of big game trophy hunters

A new advisory board assembled by the Trump administration to revise federal rules regarding the importing of exotic animal trophies, is stacked with trophy hunters and people who have “direct ties” to President Trump and his family, according to The Associated Press.

A review by The Associated Press of the backgrounds and social media posts of the 16 board members appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke indicates they will agree with his position that the best way to protect critically threatened or endangered species is by encouraging wealthy Americans to shoot some of them.

Under Zinke, who is an avid hunter, the Fish and Wildlife Service has moved to reverse Obama-era restrictions on importing exotic animal trophies from Africa to the U.S. Advocates for big game hunting say the money doled out for African safari hunting trips helps support habitat conservation and anti-poaching efforts and boosts local economies. But according to environmentalists, hunters who typically target the biggest and strongest animals actually do a disservice to already weakened animal populations.

From the AP:

There’s little indication dissenting perspectives will be represented on the Trump administration’s conservation council. Appointees include 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.

Most are high-profile members of Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association, groups that have sued the Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the list of countries from which trophy kills can be legally imported.

As stated in its charter, the council’s agenda includes “recommending removal of barriers to the importation into the United States of legally hunted wildlife” and “ongoing review of import suspension/bans and providing recommendations that seek to resume the legal trade of those items, where appropriate.”

But as the AP points out, a coalition of more than 20 environmental groups have slammed the overwhelmingly pro-hunting makeup of the council, saying it violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act which requires government boards to be balanced in ideology and free of special interests.

“If Trump really wants to stop the slaughter of elephants for trophies, he should shut down this biased, thrill-kill council,” said Tanya Sanerib, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The administration can’t make wise decisions on trophy imports if it only listens to gun-makers and people who want to kill wildlife.”

Read the AP’s full report here.

Featured image via Flickr

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