This screenshot of a Twitter post from the page of Keith Mark shows photos of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Keith Mark. A new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos is stacked with trophy hunters, including some members with direct ties to President Donald Trump and his family. Trump Jr. is friendly with another member of the advisory council – hunting guide and TV show personality Mark. He helped organize Sportsmen for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and recently posted photos on his Twitter page of himself with Trump Jr. and Zinke, standing before an array of mounted big-horn sheep and a bear. Photo: Associated Press / Keith Mark / Twitter

By Michael Biesecker, Jake Pearson, and Jeff Horwitz
16 March 2018

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) – A new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos is stacked with trophy hunters, including some members with direct ties to President Donald Trump and his family.

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.

One appointee co-owns a private New York hunting preserve with Trump's adult sons. The oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., drew the ire of animal rights activists after a 2011 photo emerged of him holding a bloody knife and the severed tail of an elephant he killed in Zimbabwe.

The first meeting of the International Wildlife Conservation Council was Friday. Access to the meeting inside the headquarters building for the Interior Department in Washington was tightly controlled, and an AP reporter was herded into a roped-off area at the back of the room. The room was lined with murals of Native American hunting scenes, including men mounted on horseback shooting bison with bows and arrows. As the meeting started, officials announced that Zinke was unable to attend the inaugural session of the council.

Trump has decried big-game hunting as a "horror show" in tweets. But under Zinke, a former Montana congressman who is an avid hunter, the Fish and Wildlife Service has quietly moved to reverse Obama-era restrictions on bringing trophies from African lions and elephants into the United States.

A licensed two-week African hunting safari can cost more than $50,000 per person, not including airfare, according to advertised rates. Advocates say money helps support habitat conservation and anti-poaching efforts in some of the world's poorest nations, and provides employment for local guides and porters.

In a statement last year, Zinke said, "This council will provide important insight into the ways that American sportsmen and women benefit international conservation from boosting economies and creating hundreds of jobs to enhancing wildlife conservation."

But environmentalists and animal welfare advocates say tourists taking photos generate more economic benefit, and hunters typically target the biggest and strongest animals, weakening already vulnerable populations.

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.  […]

In a letter this week, a coalition of more than 20 environmental and animal welfare groups objected that the one-sided makeup of the council could violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires government boards to be balanced in terms of points of view and not improperly influenced by special interests. [more]

Trump wildlife protection board stuffed with trophy hunters

0 comments :

 

Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews