US Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), the top House Democrat overseeing endangered species legislation on trophy hunting, has expanded Endangered Species Act protections with new requirements that legal animal imports must help conserve the animal’s species.
Grijalva named the legislation — not introduced for the first time — the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act, or CECIL Animal Trophies Act, after Cecil the African lion whose 2015 killing by American dentist and big-game hunter Walter Palmer caused an international uproar.
CECIL would prohibit elephant and lion trophy imports from Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and it comes at a time when many Trump supporters who are big-game hunters are infuriated by delays in easing restrictions against killing the animals.
“The bottom line is they are afraid as shit to get off the fence,” Dwight Miloff, a frequent trophy hunter, told The Hill. “They know if they get off the fence the anti-hunting people will be up in arms, and if they don’t grant them the people who put in the money for the permit will be pissed off.”
MIloff is referring to trophy importation documents for elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia. Elephant permits from Tanzania and South Africa have been processed, but Rep. Grijalva’s expended legislation would cover Tanzania, where the situation is dire for elephants.
The Trump administration’s intention to relax restrictions on big-game hunting met massive public outcries in November 2017, causing Trump to issue a Tweet a few days later: “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”
Since March 2018, each request to import a trophy elephant has been considered on a “case-by-case” basis.
Grijalva’s bill would also make trophy importers pay all the costs of the federal import review program, terminate the Trump administration’s International Wildlife Conservation Council and mandate that the Government Accountability Office examine whether trophy hunting actually helps conservation.
In the larger US population, there is massive support for restrictions on trophy hunting among all political parties.