Ranking Member Grijalva: Trump Officials Have No Good Reason to Permit Black Rhino Trophy Import – Or Make Taxpayers Subsidize Rhino Hunts

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to permit a Texas billionaire who paid $275,000 at auction to hunt a critically endangered black rhino in Namibia and bring it as a trophy back to the United States is an insult to taxpayers and the very idea of environmental protection. There are fewer than 5,500 black rhinos in the wild, and Namibia has fewer than 2,000.

“We shouldn’t allow critically endangered animals to be slaughtered if we’re going to preserve what’s left of our environment,” Grijalva said today. “We’re now in a world where we auction off our last remaining endangered animals to billionaires for sport and the Trump administration rubber-stamps the paperwork. Taxpayers subsidize this activity for the ultra-rich by paying almost the entire cost of administering this program. The new trophy approval, like others before it, is a monstrous abuse of the public trust and an insult to the American public, and it should be reversed immediately.”

This is not the first time the Trump administration has approved a questionable trophy hunting import. In March, FWS reversed course to allow lion and elephant trophies to be imported from Zimbabwe and Tanzania and other trophies to be imported on a case-by-case basis. The agency recently established the badly misnamed International Wildlife Conservation Council, which is dominated by trophy hunters and firearms dealers, to set wildlife importation standards and serve as a taxpayer-funded promoter of trophy hunting. In July the agency announced it intends to weaken existing protections for threatened and endangered species.

Grijalva has highlighted weaknesses in hunting regulations for years, releasing a 2016 report showing in detail that contrary to industry claims, trophy hunts do not improve conservation for endangered species in Africa. The report found that taxpayers subsidize approximately 92 percent of the cost of administering the approval program for trophy hunters.

That analysis, titled “Missing The Mark: African trophy hunting fails to show consistent conservation benefits,” found that major hunted species – including the African lion, the African elephant, the leopard, and the white and black rhinoceros – have largely suffered from a combination of African countries’ lax conservation enforcement and frequent FWS failures to demand relevant information before approving trophy hunting imports under the Endangered Species Act.

The full report is available at http://1.usa.gov/1tm0W4z.

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