House Natural Resources Committee Advances Sportsmen’s Bill, Undermining Efforts to Stop the Poaching of Elephants and Crack Down on the Sale of Illegal Ivory in the United States
Washington (October 8, 2015) – The so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2015” (H.R. 2406), passed through the House Natural Resources Committee markup today, containing damaging provisions which undermine recent efforts by the Obama administration to help save the African elephant. The legislation would block a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to dramatically restrict the import, export and commercial sale of ivory in the United States. Out of control ivory poaching has slashed the African elephant population from 1.3 million to fewer than 500,000 today. Recently, FWS proposed new regulations which would result in a near total ban on the domestic commercial trade of ivory and help prevent illegal ivory from entering the United States and blending into legal commerce. The Sportsmen’s bill prevents such restrictions, and in addition, would actually amend the Endangered Species Act itself to allow the continued importation of sport-hunted elephant trophies even as elephant populations continue to plummet.
The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:
“The Sportsmen’s Bill seriously undermines the protection of one of the most iconic and heavily-poached species on earth, the African elephant. The members of the House Committee on Natural Resources who supported passage of the anti-elephant conservation provisions in this bill should be ashamed, especially after Representative Grijalva’s courageous motion to strike the harmful elephant language.
“Wildlife trafficking is decimating imperiled species around the world and the United States is one of the world’s largest markets for the purchase of illegal wildlife products. Yet despite the devastating toll that the continued sale of illegal ivory in this country is having on the African elephant, the Sportsmen’s bill actually makes it easier for smugglers to import and sell ivory in the United States. In addition, we should be eliminating the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies altogether, not facilitating it. Cutting off consumer demand for ivory is critical to stopping the elephant poaching epidemic.
“It’s appalling that our Congressional leaders are promoting elephant hunting and advancing legislation that would prevent FWS from cracking down on illegal ivory. The anti-wildlife provisions in the so-called Sportsmen’s bill are unacceptable and belong in the House trash and not on the House floor.”
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @defendersnews.