House Natural Resources Committee advances 16 bills

By Laura Bies

Cecil the lion, whose killing inspired the “Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act. ©Vince O’Sullivan

Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced 16 bills, including the controversial CECIL Act that would change import permit requirements for hunters under the Endangered Species Act.

The “Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies (CECIL) Act” (H.R. 2245), which was developed in response to the infamous 2015 killing of a lion researchers named “Cecil” by an American hunter outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, would require hunters to obtain permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for taxidermy imports of species proposed for listing under the ESA. Currently, hunters must obtain permits to import species already listed as threatened or endangered.

In addition, the bill would eliminate the International Wildlife Conservation Council, established in 2017 to advise the Secretary of the Interior regarding issues such as anti-poaching programs, wildlife trafficking, and increasing the awareness of the conservation and economic benefits of United States citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting. It would also require the Government Accountability Office to study the effectiveness of hunting in supporting international wildlife conservation efforts.

In July, The Wildlife Society and partners expressed concerns about the CECIL Act in a letter to the committee, which warned that the “bill represents an ill-conceived attempt to substitute uninformed prejudices for the management strategies of the wildlife authorities successfully conserving the world’s largest populations of lions, elephants and other African species in their range countries.”

The committee also approved the “Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2019” (H.R. 1446), which requires the postal service to continue selling the Multinational Species Conservation Funds semipostal stamp until all remaining stamps are sold. Sales of the stamp raise funds for international species conservation. Since 2011, more than $5.4 million has been raised, supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Multinational Species Conservation Funds to conserve tigers, rhinoceroses, Asian and African elephants, marine turtles and great apes.

Other legislation approved by the committee includes the “Big Cat Public Safety Act” (H.R. 1380), which ends the private ownership of big cats, including lions, tigers and cheetahs, as pets, as well as the “Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act” H.R. 737, which makes it illegal to possess, buy, or sell shark fins or any product containing shark fins.

All 16 bills approved by the committee now advance to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

Read TWS’ January 2018 letter to the Trump Administration on trophy imports and the standing position on hunting.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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