Trump Administration Killed Big Game Hunting Advisory Council

Wildlife and environmental groups scored a legal victory last week when the Trump Administration admitted in court filings that last December it had disbanded the Interior Department’s International Wildlife Conservation Council, an advisory committee of hunting advocates charged with promoting the “benefits of international hunting.” 

  • It was the influence of panels like this one that led to the President reversing himself to allow big game trophies to be imported into the U.S.– the Interior Department under direction from the President at one point decided to continue the Obama Administration’s moratorium on bringing tusks and other elephant parts back home but under pressure the President relented.

Why This Matters: The “logic” behind this council was always twisted and cruel to the very animals it purported to protect.  It was promoting hunting overseas because they claimed that legal hunts are “an effective tool to combat illegal trafficking and poaching” since permit fees for such hunts are used to help fund crucial habitat conservation and anti-poaching efforts in poorer countries. Of course, the council was chock full of Trump donors — people like Peter Lewis Horn II, Chris Hudson, Mike Ingram and Keith Mark who helped put on the “Camouflage & Cufflinks” Inaugural party on Trump’s Inauguration Day.  How swampy.  Good riddance.  But the damage is done — and the U.S. government’s leadership role in fighting wildlife trafficking has been seriously undermined.

Lawsuit Paid Off

Numerous environmental and animal-welfare groups sued former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the department for allegedly stacking the panel with pro-hunting advocates, many close pals of President Trump and his sons, who are known to be huge hunting advocates and big game hunters themselves. The Advisory Committee Act, under which such committees are chartered, requires that such panels must be ideologically balanced and serve some sort of public interest. The environmental groups were able to successfully argue in court that the Trump administration’s wildlife council failed both tests.

Trump Hates Big Game Hunting

According to The Washington Post, “Trump’s adult sons are prolific hunters, posing in photographs with a dead elephant and leopard in Africa. But their father doesn’t share their interest in hunting; he has called killing elephants for sport a ‘horror show.’” The Interior Department told The Hill in a statement “that the department ‘takes illegal wildlife trafficking seriously and will continue working to grow our partnerships, while continuing to move toward shared conservation stewardship.’”

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