Breaking! Bill To Ban The Possession Of Wildlife “Trophies” In California Passes Assembly Committee With 8-3 Vote & Is One Step Closer To Becoming Law

Today, Senate Bill 1175 passed the California Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife by a vote of 8-3. The bill will cut off imports of any wildlife into the state that could spread zoonotic disease like COVID-19 or that are invasive species. The bill will also ban the possession of several commonly hunted species from Africa, such as lions, elephants, and rhinos, among others. Senator Henry Stern, who authored SB 1175, is working with cosponsors of the bill, political advocacy group Social Compassion in Legislation and Center for Biological Diversity.

“California must not be complicit in the brutal wildlife trafficking that threatens our public health and undermines our values. This is our chance to be global leaders by cracking down on this brutal trade with the power of the world’s fifth largest economy. With this vote, we’ve sent another strong message that California is ready to lead,” Senator Henry Stern said in a statement sent to WAN.

A United Nations study published in May 2019, which is the most comprehensive assessment of its kind, found that around one million species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.

“The factual data in the U.N. study was compiled by multiple nations to identify the threat of this mass extinction, not misinformation being spewed by hunting interest to justify killing majestic creatures to the benefit of a wealthy few,” said Judie Mancuso, President and Founder of Social Compassion in Legislation.

“The NRA, Safari Club, and representatives of Zimbabwe claimed that trophy hunting somehow “conserves” elephants and other species,” continued Mancuso. “Despite these claims, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Obama Administration found that the management programs in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Zambia did not conserve these animals and banned the importation of trophies into the United States.”

“Since then, nothing has changed on the ground, the only difference is their new friend in the White House, as the Trump administration reversed that scientifically-based decision and thus necessitated that California take the steps in SB 1175,” concluded Mancuso.

The falsehood that hunting fees go to local populations is a myth. The fact is that money spent on trophy hunts goes to the outfitters, the landowners, and government officials. Locals make money off eco-tourism, not trophy hunting.

Other provisions of the bill will create safeguards against importation of live wildlife that could transmit zoonotic diseases or threaten native wildlife.

Globally, a quarter of human deaths are from infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, about 60% of these diseases are considered zoonotic, meaning they jump from other animals to humans, and more than 70% of zoonotic diseases originate with wildlife. COVID-19 almost certainly originated in a bat, likely made the jump to another species, potentially a pangolin, and from there to humans. All of this is associated with a live animal market.

“The international wildlife trade not only poses a disease risk to people but is a threat to biodiversity,” declared Brendan Cummings, Conservation Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Whether it’s dead animals brought in as trophies or curios, or live animals imported as pets or food, our unsustainable appetite for wildlife is one of the main drivers of the extinction crisis.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has led numerous organizations, including elements of the UN and WHO to call for bans or restrictions on the live wildlife trade. With the world facing two massive threats, plague and extinction, it is time for the state to use the tools available. SB 1175 does that, in as far as one state can go.

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