Newly Introduced Bill, The ProTECT Act, Would Ban Trophy Imports & Domestic Sport Hunting Of At-Risk Species

Photo by: Katie Cleary undercover at The Safari Club International Convention in Las Vegas 

The Prohibiting Threatened and Endangered Creature Trophies Act (ProTECT Act) was reintroduced on Friday, and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commends Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) for championing this legislation.

The ProTECT Act would prohibit importing a trophy of a species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, as well as ban the killing of a listed species for a “trophy” within the United States. This reflects the values of American citizens, as a poll showed that 86% of Americans oppose big game hunting.

“Wild species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act are under a looming threat of extinction, and it is absurd to allow these animals to be hunted for sport,” said Susan Millward, AWI’s executive director and chief executive officer. “There is no good reason to cater to the interests of wealthy hunters when the very survival of these species hangs in the balance. Thank you to Representatives Jackson Lee and Lieu for introducing the ProTECT Act, which will ensure that species under federal protection aren’t further victimized by someone looking to mount a head on a wall.”

There is no credible scientific evidence that trophy hunting benefits conservation. Indeed, studies have shown that charismatic species are worth more alive as tourist attractions than dead at the hands of a trophy hunter. Trophy hunting can also hurt the structure and viability of already vulnerable wild populations: Big game hunters target the largest, strongest animals for trophies, and this can result in enormous upheaval for the surviving members of the group, disrupting social bonds and behaviors and having adverse genetic impacts on the population. Many populations of targeted species are already severely depleted due to other threats, and the 100,000+ animals killed by trophy hunters each year exacerbates the problem.

The ProTECT Act would also ensure that threatened and endangered species cannot be killed for trophies on canned hunting operations within the United States. Referred to as “shooting preserves” or “game ranches,” these operations allow trophy hunters to shoot animals within fenced-in areas. While it is generally illegal to harm an ESA-listed species, the operators of these ranches receive species permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to offer such species in captive hunts. These canned hunts perpetuate the market for imperiled species’ trophies, which can encourage poaching of the animals in the wild. This runs contrary to the fundamental purpose of the ESA, which is to conserve wild species — not endanger them further by encouraging the targeting of these animals for trophies.

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