Today, the Democratic staff of the US Congress’ Natural Resources Committee published a highly critical report on the “value” of trophy hunting. The report, aptly called “Missing the Mark”, challenged long standing claims by the hunting industry and their allies in Government that trophy hunting fees benefited communities and conservation efforts.
Instead, the report found little evidence that trophy fees were used constructively in any sense, mostly because of rampant corruption in trophy hunting countries, misappropriation and poorly managed wildlife programs. The report went so far as to mention that continued trophy hunting could lead to extinction of certain endangered and threatened species by removing significant numbers of animals from declining populations.
In addition, there was criticism of the hunting industry, mentioning that “trophy hunters do not always play by the rules, and the trophy hunting industry needs to be regulated and held accountable for there to be any hope of a consistent conservation benefit.” Also, the report recommends that the US Fish and Wildlife Service improve its permitting process so that only trophies that actually enhance the survival of species are allowed into the country, as it seems the USFWS has been “reluctant” in the past to restrict trophy imports that do not meet the standards on protecting species. The example of such laxity is exemplified by leopards: for 1,469 leopard trophies imported 2010 to 2014 that should have required an import permit, the USFWS issued none.
The New York Times attributes the impetus for the report to have been generated by the death of Cecil the lion, illegally killed almost one year ago.