Led by The Humane Society Of The United States, several animal rights groups filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Virginia to order the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to post elephant and lion trophy permit applications routinely, as well as the agency’s permitting decisions and related findings regarding the sustainability of hunting various species.
“The antis are losing ground in the court of public opinion, so they now go to the court of law and pick on a government agency over otherwise minor legal points as an effort to raise more money for themselves,” said Safari Club International President Paul Babaz. “Wildlife does not benefit from this latest legal maneuvering of the antis.
“When the antis can’t defeat hunters and hunting, including SCI and its allies, in the greater world, they file lawsuits,” Babaz continued.
“The money they are spending on nuisance lawsuits like this one would be much better spent actually helping wildlife around the world. But the anti-hunting groups are not about helping wildlife. They are about helping themselves.
“There is a total difference between what SCI does and what the antis do when it comes to lawsuits,” Babaz noted.
“When we win a lawsuit, we put the proceeds toward our mission, which includes wildlife conservation, versus the antis who use the proceeds from their lawsuits to line their own pockets.”
“The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to come clean and let the public know how many elephants and lions are killed to decorate rich Americans’ living rooms,” said Tanya Sanerib, the legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s international program, in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
“With huge threats facing Africa’s imperiled wildlife, the unlawful secrecy about these bloody imports is totally unacceptable,” she said.
This recent lawsuit follows a pending court case filed by the same plaintiffs contesting the merits of the administration’s decision last November to lift an import ban on Zimbabwe elephant trophy imports and to allow imports of lion trophies from Zimbabwe to the U.S., and its March 1 decision to shift to a “case-by-case” process for making trophy import findings.
“SCI will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of hunters and hunting. This includes being involved in meaningful wildlife conservation so that there will be wild things in wild places forever,” Babaz said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made a final determination to list the hyacinth macaw as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to population declines resulting from deforestation, hunting and predation.
The hyacinth macaw is the largest bird in the parrot family and has predominately cobalt-blue plumage.
Approximately 6,500 hyacinth macaws remain in the wild, down from historical estimates ranging up to 3 million birds.
At one time, hyacinth macaws were widely distributed, occupying large areas of central Brazil, and smaller parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. Today, the species is limited to the Pará, Gerais and Pantanal regions of Brazil and marginally in Bolivia and Paraguay.
Native forests have been replaced by crops and cattle ranching, creating a shortage in nesting sites, increased competition that results in a reduction in population size. The hyacinth macaw’s specialized diet makes it particularly vulnerable from the reduced availability of food resources resulting from habitat loss.
The Service is also finalizing a species-specific 4(d) rule to establish the take prohibitions under the ESA that are appropriate to apply to this threatened species. The U.S. domestic pet trade is not a threat to the survival of the species in the wild, and imports of parrots into the United States are already tightly controlled by the Wild Bird Conservation Act.
Additionally, the species is globally protected in trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Because of the 4(d) rule, the listing of the hyacinth macaw under the ESA will not affect import and export of certain captive-bred hyacinth macaws. Nor will it affect domestic commercial activity across state lines provided that such trade is in compliance with the Wild Bird Conservation Act or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) procedures.
—TF&G STAFF REPORT