by Karen Mehall Phillips - Monday, July 25, 2022
When protecting the future of hunting and wildlife conservation, one must be vigilant in monitoring proposed legislation as those against hunting so often slip anti-hunting language into bills to get themselves one step closer to achieving their goal to end all hunting. The most recent example on the federal level is Section 439 found on page 784 of the FY2023 Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which comes in the form of a ban on the import of legally hunted wild game trophies from Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Despite the many hunter-backed wildlife conservation groups that took a stand against Section 438, the bill sailed through the U.S. House intact last week and is on its way to the Senate.
As this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website reported in June, Section 439 not only ignores scientific facts about hunting’s vital role in wildlife management, but if passed it will harm wildlife conservation and biodiversity while damaging the livelihoods of the African communities and agencies that live with and work to conserve Africa’s wildlife every day. This is why the NRA and 23 other members of the coalition American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) signed onto a letter last month addressed to House Committee on Appropriations Chair Rep. Rosa Delauro (CT-03) and ranking member Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12) opposing the move.
While the House opted not to strike Section 439 from the bill prior to passage, perhaps the Senate will remove Section 439 to prevent it from becoming law. If common sense prevails, then Congress will not pass it. If history repeats itself, maybe hunters can find hope in the fact that the House passed the same anti-hunting language in Section 436 of the appropriations bill last year, but then the Senate defeated it. This was thanks, in part, to the overwhelming response senators received from hunter-backed wildlife conservation groups, hunters and other constituents.
This time around, maybe the Senate will consider the final point the 24 AWCP groups shared in their letter to the House committee chair and ranking member in June, which is that Section 439 wrongly attempts to dictate the management of African wildlife—a right that belongs to African governments and communities. “These countries and communities rely upon international hunting as a means to generate incentives for habitat protection, human wildlife conflict mitigation and revenues for both conservation and community projects,” it states. “Africans must benefit from wildlife, not be forced to choose between animals and themselves. When the U.S., or any other country attempts to undermine the management authority of a sovereign nation and impose legislation which will effectively ban imports, it has real, devastating consequences—for wildlife and people.”
This NRA website will continue to track this issue. In the meantime, hunters and other conservationists can contact their senators and push them to strike Section 439 from the FY2023 Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Please stay tuned for updates.
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