Breaking! New Bill Named After Cecil The Lion, Aims To Restrict Imports Of African “Trophies” Into The U.S.

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Photo from Cecilthelion.org

The Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act was introduced yesterday by Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona.

Named after Cecil the lion who was lured out of protected territory and killed in an illegal hunt by American dentist Walter Palmer in Zimbabwe in 2015. The bill aims to restrict the importation of African “trophies” of sport-hunted species into the United States.

As per a statement released by the Natural Resources Committee of which Grijalva is the Chairman, the bill amends the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to treat species recommended to be listed as threatened or endangered as though they have already been listed for the purposes of trophy hunting import licensing, thereby prohibiting unpermitted take or trade of species proposed to be listed.

Strengthening the ESA in this way would prevent the rush to take animal trophies before a listing is finalized, such as the one that happened when polar bears were proposed to be listed as threatened in 2008.

The bill would also terminate the highly-controversial International Wildlife Conservation Council, a Trump administration-created forum for the promotion of international trophy hunting.

“Species such as African elephants and lions face grave threats to their survival, and there is no credible scientific evidence that legal hunting enhances their conservation,” Cathy Liss, President of Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) said in a statement. “The revenue generated by trophy hunts often fails to provide any meaningful income to impoverished locals. Rather, these hunts usually funnel money into the hands of a select few without improving protections for hunted wildlife populations. No species that faces extinction should be further victimized by someone looking to hang a head on a wall.”

The ESA requires that proposed listings be finalized or withdrawn no later than one year after the proposal is made, with a six-month extension possible in the case of scientific uncertainty. The CECIL Act offers an additional 12 to 18 months of protection for vulnerable species that have not yet had a finalized listing.

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