The Fish and Wildlife Services (WFS) have granted the approval to a trophy hunter from Michigan to import the remains of a rare black rhinoceros he killed in Africa. Environmental groups have criticized the approval, citing a “pay-to-slay” scheme awarded to wealthy Americans.
According to NbcNews, Chris Peyerk, a hunter from Shelby Township, Michigan, made application last year for the permit required by the Fish and Wildlife Service to import animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Peyerk paid $400,000 to an anti-poaching program to receive permission to hunt the male rhino bull inside a Namibian national park in May 2018. The male rhinoceros was listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in a Namibian park.
The permit is the second of its kind issued under the Trump administration since January 2017. Last year, the FWS granted Lacy Harber, a trophy hunter from Texas, permission to import the remains of a black rhino he killed in 2017.
“We urge our federal government to end this pay-to-slay scheme that delivers critically endangered rhino trophies to wealthy Americans while dealing a devastating blow to rhino conservation,” Kitty Block, the head of Humane Society International wrote in a release.
“While we cannot turn back the clock to save this animal, the administration can stop the U.S. from further contributing to the demise of this species by refusing future import permits of black rhino trophies.”
A spokesperson fro the Fish and Wildlife Service defended the decision to allow Peyerk to hunt the rare animal for a price tag of $400,000, stating the money he paid to the conservation service helps fund the program by providing incentives to local communities to conserve certain species and bring back needed revenue.
There are approximately 5,500 black rhinos remaining in the wild. Half of that population live in Namibia, which under international convention, allows five male rhinos a year to be legally killed by hunters. For decades, there were no permits to allow black rhinos to be killed for sport. Starting in 2013, President Obama issued three permits during his eight-year administration. The Trump administration has since issued another two permits.
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