Menendez, Booker, Blumenthal, Markey to Secretary of Interior: Expedite Action to Protect African Lion From Trophy Hunters

Menendez, Booker, Blumenthal, Markey to Secretary of Interior: Expedite Action to Protect African Lion From Trophy Hunters

Finalizing US Fish and Wildlife rule would designate lions like Cecil as threatened under Endangered Species Act


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, Cory Booker (both D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Edward Markey (D-Mass) today asked U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell to expedite the review and completion of a rule to help protect the African lion by listing it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“The United States is the world’s largest importer of African lion parts as hunting trophies and for commercial purposes,” wrote the Senators in a letter to Jewell. “Listing the African lion as threatened would require that the FWS allow import of sport-hunted lion trophies only from countries with sound conservation plans that enhance the survival of the species in the wild. Additionally, it would send a clear message to the international community that the United States will not tolerate hunts in countries without a sustainable, science-based lion management plan, or in circumstances that do not benefit the conservation of the species.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) proposed listing the African Lion on the Endangered Species List on October 29, 2014, and the 90 day public comment period ended on January 27, 2015.

Late last month, Menendez introduced the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act to curb the sport killing of species that are proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

The letter is available here and below:

August 12, 2015

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Jewell:

We write to you today to urge you to cooperate fully with Zimbabwean authorities in order to complete a full investigation of the recent killings of two African lions in the area surrounding Hwange National Park. Additionally, we encourage you to devote all necessary resources to complete a review of the public comments on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) proposed rule to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and to finalize that rule expeditiously.

Along with many of our fellow Americans, we were outraged to learn of the tragic death of the beloved African lion named Cecil, allegedly by an American trophy hunter. This hunter traveled thousands of miles to shoot a lion for sport. He and his guides reportedly lured Cecil out of the protected Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, used a bow and arrow to wound him, and tracked him for 40 hours, before he ultimately shot, skinned and decapitated the majestic lion. In the wake of this tragedy, the FWS must act swiftly to determine if any domestic or international laws were broken, and to complete its work on its proposed rule to list African lions as threatened and require permits for trophy imports.

Cecil is only one of hundreds of African lions who are killed by American trophy hunters each year. The United States is the world’s largest importer of African lion parts as hunting trophies and for commercial purposes. In recent years, it is estimated that over 400 lions are lost to American trophy hunters each year. The number of African lions has declined by almost 50 percent in the past three decades, with fewer than 40,000 individuals—and possibly as few as 23,000—existing today. Moreover, the African lion occupies only 22 percent of its historic range. It is our view that this data presents a strong case for listing the African lion under the Endangered Species Act.

Listing the African lion as threatened would require that the FWS allow import of sport-hunted lion trophies only from countries with sound conservation plans that enhance the survival of the species in the wild. Additionally, it would send a clear message to the international community that the United States will not tolerate hunts in countries without a sustainable, science-based lion management plan, or in circumstances that do not benefit the conservation of the species. We urge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to continue its commitment to protect the most vulnerable species in the United States and around the world, and to complete its work on the proposed listing of the African lion.

CC:
Daniel M. Ashe, Director
Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW, Room 3331
Washington, DC 20240-0001

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