Elephant and lion trophies brought back to U.S. legal again says Trump

In another reversal of an Obama policy, prohibiting the importation of endangered animals back to the United States, has been overturned by the Trump administration. The restrictions were put in place to discourage the hunting and poaching of animals that are on the threatened species and who have been targeted for their ivory. In 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service suspended the import of trophy hunted elephants citing the lack of any statistics relevant to conservation efforts.

On Wednesday, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will allow trophy hunters to legally bring back their killed wildlife, which now removes restrictions on permits. In a newly created arm of the Department of the Interior, the International Wildlife Conservation Council states it wants to bring:

“…economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting.”

The IWCC contends overturning the previous rules will benefit “human populations.” There is no supporting research to accompany this latest “conservation” platitude, yet the council states that hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia will help their conservation efforts. In support of the latest policy is the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action executive director, Chris Cox:

“This is a significant step forward in having hunting receive the recognition it deserves as a tool of sound wildlife management, which has been all but buried in the previous administration.”

ABCNews reports the government has not actually announced the policy change yet, but it was  announced at a wildlife forum in South Africa this week, according to Safari Club International, which filed a lawsuit to block the 2014 ban.

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric Trump are big game hunters and have posted many photos of their hunting exploits, including posing with an elephant’s severed tail and a leopard drawing the ire of animal advocates and humane organizations worldwide. The brothers continue to take hunting trips although they have not been posting their photos. According to Buzz Feed, Trump Jr. ditched his Secret Service protection  in September to go hunting in the Canadian wilderness. He calls hunting “a great way to see the world,” and is pictured holding an elephant’s tail he had just severed.

And if you’re wondering where else all this is coming from, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department includes the Fish and Wildlife Service, he speaks of remembering the days he went on family hunting trips and now wants more families to experience. After installing the arcade game called “Big Buck Hunter” in the department’s cafeteria, he had this to say:

“Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That’s something I want more families to experience.”

For most Americans, it is hard to forget the Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer who shot Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, sparking an outrage for killing one of the most beloved African lion that some say his hunting group lured away from the sanctuary with food just so the lion could be shot; that safari hunt for Cecil cost Palmer $50,000 and months of ridicule and criticism.

As for the elephants in Zimbabwe, their population continues to decline, and in the past hunters have always chosen to chase the healthiest and the largest elephants to garner a more impressive trophy.

Most Americans oppose big game hunting and say it should be illegal. In response to this latest government reversal, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States responded with the following, citing Zimbabwe politics:

“This jarring announcement comes on the same day that global news sources report that Mr. Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s aging dictator, is under house arrest following a military coup. This fact in and of itself highlights the absurdity and illegal nature of the FWS decision to find that Zimbabwe is capable of ensuring that elephant conservation and trophy hunting are properly managed. During the last two years, poachers in the country have poisoned several dozen elephants, including young calves.”

Pacelle continues:

“Government officials cash in by capturing elephant calves who are still dependent on their mothers and exporting them to China for use in zoos. Perhaps not surprisingly, a hunting outfitter advertised elephant hunts in Zimbabwe as soon as the SCI announcement was made public. It’s a venal and nefarious, pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry.”

“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them.”

Read the previous article about Cecil the Lion.

(Photo courtesy of Dan McBride)

(Additional photo of Trump holding tail via Facebook)

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Property owner destroys deer poacher’s truck with a tractor

A property owner took matters into his own hands when a deer poacher decided to trespass. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police recounted the unusual incident to Facebook users on Monday morning…along with a word of warning:

Respect private property, but if you feel someone isn’t, don’t take matters into your own hands – a license plate gets us what we need most of the time.

According to the agency, two officers responded to a Saturday night phone call about an active poacher on private property. Officers Flowers and Prater responded and noticed a man on a tractor “ram into the back of a pickup truck.”

The tractor driver proceeded to push the poacher’s truck over an embankment – totaling the vehicle. Officers determined that the poacher was a 16-year-old who had killed a closed season cow elk; the meat was donated to a local food bank.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police would like for incidents to be phoned in…not taken into land owner’s hands. They wrote, “Don’t be tractor man – call us (360) 902-2936 or 911”

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Charging deer gores unarmed hunter to death with its antlers

A 62-year-old man taking part in the hunting of deer near Paris, France was gored to death by a deer’s antlers early Tuesday morning. The incident occurred  in the Compiegne forest located approximately 50 miles northeast of Paris.

According to the Local FR, the man, identified as Regis Levasseur, had been acting as a “beater” which is a person who helps the armed hunter corner the animal in a specific area. Levasseur was described as a person who loved to hunt. He “was charged and pierced by a deer which stabbed him with his antlers,” a police spokesman stated. The unarmed hunter died of internal bleeding before emergency services could arrive. Police said this type of death was “uncommon.”

“The antlers of the stag are like many knives piercing you, there is nothing you can do. This tragic accident reminds us that we do not play with a wild animal. There is an inherent risk with hunting,” said Guy Harlé, the president of the local hunters federation.

Just one week prior, animal advocates came out to protest in huge crowds after hunters used hounds to corner a terrified buck who had accidentally wandered near a home in a residential backyard. A hunter then shot the animal at close range. The hunting group involved in the incident had been banned for a month; the hunter who shot the deer had been receiving death threats. Hunters asserted the goring of Levasseur showed why it was necessary to corner and kill the buck because it could indeed hurt an area resident. Most people disagreed stating the animals are very timid and would have likely just fled back into the forest.

On social media, however the interpretation was very different as many people called what happened to Levasseur “karma.”

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Rhino fights back: Turns tables and injures suspected poacher

In what has been called a “reversal of fortune” one rhino fought back last week in the southwest African nation of Namibia. When animal poaching seems to be at its worst, local media reported one “appeared from nowhere” to turn the tables on a suspected poacher. This time it was rhino – “1” and poacher – “0.”

According to Sky News, the  incident occurred in Etosha National Park after poaching suspect Luteni Muharukua and his accomplices illegally entered the wildlife preserve intending to kill rhinos for their horns. Rhino horns are not made of bone; they are made of keratin, a protein also found in hair and fingernails; the horns will grow back if trimmed. Every year or two South African rhino farmers tranquilize their animals with darts and trim the horns, secure the valuable products in a vault and hope someday it will become legal again to sell. Poachers kill the rhinos and sever their horns off to sell on the black market for astronomical money.

Police Officer Simson Shilongo stated the rhino chased him, inflicting a serious injury to the man’s leg. Muharukua fled and hid in the nearby mountains and was arrested one day after the incident.

Within the last few weeks, 36 suspects between the ages of 22 and 40 have been arrested on rhino poaching charges.

The National Geographic reports South Africa is home to nearly 70 percent of the 29,500 rhinos left on Earth; a sizable decrease from several hundred thousand in Africa during the 1800s before human settlements grew. Of the rhinos five species remaining are: the white rhino, with some 20,400 remaining; the black, with 5,250; the greater one-horned; the Sumatran; and the Javan.  South Africa’s Private Rhino Owners Association owns 6,200 of the species, and they are used commercially for photographic safaris, legal hunting, horn production, and breeding.

On the black market in South Africa, the horn of the white rhino sells for up to $3,000 a pound, and in Asia it sells for many times over that price and used as status symbols and traditional medicines.

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Ten-year-old girl revels in the attention after shooting her first black bear

In Hartman, Arkansas, a ten-year-old girl has been garnering a lot of attention – much of it critical, after killing a black bear just days after hunting season began. Ayla Highfill has already hunted and killed deer, squirrels and other animals and looks forward to hunting more prey.

According to News5, Ayla and her father Cory went on a hunting trip over the weekend. When Ayla heard noises of leaves crunching, she soon spotted the huge black bear walk by.

“When I shot it, it just kind of ran towards us and then in a big circle and it went down a hill,” Ayla stated.

According to her father, he set his daughter up for the shot.

“In the culmination of a hunt like that, you’re 19 yards from a grown black bear with a kid. You know they’re learning a lot about poise and self-control and self discipline. For me, that was a big deal to share all of that with her and see it materialize into something she is proud of,” Cory told reporters.

Ayla has been hunting since she was six-years-old and says it is one of her favorite hobbies. Her father said the family did eat the bear meat, and Ayla intends to use the bear’s fur for an area rug in her bedroom.

If you are wondering about a minimum age for hunting with guns, Arkansas laws are as follows:

No age limit under the direct supervision of a hunter w/ valid hunting license & 21+ yrs old.
· Hunter education is required if born after Dec. 31, 1968
· At 16 years of age a Arkansas hunting license is required
· http://www.agfc.com/

Some states have no hunting age requirements for big game hunting, but most states have a minimum hunting age. Most states require some sort of hunter education course and firearms safety instruction is a must. Every youth hunter should be familiar with the firearm and it’s safety before venturing out to hunt. For more information about your state, click here.

Thoughts about youngsters hunting? Please weigh in.

(Photo of black bear killed via screenshot News5)

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Hunter grinning and bragging about moose kills draws online disgust

Calling herself an “outdoor enthusiast,” Jessica Grays’ latest post on social media, showcasing 20 photos of killing a moose while hunting in Alaska, has set the pace for a river of comments of disgust from the online community. On Grays’ Facebook page, she added 20 photos of the dead moose as she and her partner posed smiling.

“A huge congratulations to my partner in crime on harvesting the monster bull! Many years guiding these big animals and now he has one of his own! Alaska is seriously amazing and I count myself lucky for getting to come back every year! Weather hasn’t been on our our side and may be stuck a little longer.”

Hundreds of comments have since lambasted the hunter for her obvious goals towards wanting to be a celebrity:

“You are one disgusting ugly vile wench. Nature is something to stand back and admire. Not to murder, cut its head off, and nail to your wall. I can only pray that one day, karma returns the favor, and your head ends up on someone’s wall.”

“WTF?! A moose? Isn’t the excuse you monsters give for killing wolves “we need to protect the moose population”?! You are NOT conversationalists, you are greedy antler-stealing LIARS!!!”

“What horrendous cowards these people are! Not hunters at all. Just murderers killing defenseless animals with high-powered guns. No skill there, just weak acts of [cowardice] by despicable insecure idiots.”

Grays fired back thanking those who have criticized her, alleging she now has garnered numerous speaking engagements and sponsorships; among them women’s rights groups:

 “…It has created quite the media stir bringing this to a National Platform where I have media, newspaper, huntings blogs, radio stations and women’s rights groups contacting me to be spokesperson and sponsorships from it! Please keep the HATE coming! Two days ago I was a passionate small town hunter and today I have multiple new sponsors and hunts lined up across the country…”

Perhaps it is the story of bragging on social media about the “hunt” and posing with wild animals that so many people find offensive. People says they want to admire the animals while they are alive, and not their magnificent antlers being casually carried through the forest clearing. Perhaps it is the heartbreaking murder of Cecil, the 13-year-old revered lion who was shot and killed in Zimbabwe by the American dentist Walter Palmer. Or perhaps it was Donald Trump Jr., who just last week ditched his secret service protection officers telling the world he wanted privacy, when instead he is alleged to have gone on a wild animal hunting expedition to add to his collection.

According to Yahoo News however, much of the criticism began on  Facebook page Coalition Against Trophy Hunting, Poaching & Animal Cruelty, where  photos of  Grays posed with slaughtered and stuffed lions. “Check her page out,” the post urges. “A lot more photos than this… please share/tweet name/shame (with her ego? the shame part will take a lot of work. Go for it).”

What are your thoughts?

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Kill bison lottery: National Park Service garners those ‘good with guns’ to cull herd

The National Park Service (NPS) has been looking for volunteers who are “good with guns” to kill bison in the Grand Canyon. Currently statistics state there are 600 bison in the area, and wildlife personnel say there must be 200 or less to adequately maintain a sustainable habitat. Wildlife experts predict the current herd could grow to 1,500 if left unchecked.

The Flagstaff area bison are descendants of those introduced to northern Arizona in the early 1900s as part of a ranching operation to crossbreed them with cattle. Now owned by the state of Arizona, there is an annual draw for tags on the Kaibab National Forest where 1,500 people have applied for one of 122 tags this year, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Hunters are only allowed to kill one bison in their lifetime which makes the prospect even more exciting to those who like to hunt.

“The Grand Canyon is still working out details of the volunteers effort, but it’s taking cues from national parks in Colorado, the Dakotas and Wyoming that have used shooters to cut overabundant or diseased populations of elk,” the NPS stated on their website.

The park is off limits to hunters where the bison currently live. The most recent plan includes a hunter teaming up with a “Park Service employee to shoot bison using non-lead ammunition” because of the presence of the California condors. Hunters will have to pass rigorous health tests to ensure they are able to hike several miles a day and shoot at a precise target.

Some bison will be transferred to other areas. According to the USA Today, Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club says she’s hopeful the staff at the Grand Canyon will focus mostly on non-lethal removal.

As to what would happen to the heads, hide and meat from the bisons? State officials have stated they would be given to state agencies and tribes or even split among the volunteers.

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Cecil the Lion’s son, ‘Xanda’ killed by trophy hunter in Zimbabwe

Just two years after Cecil the Lion was killed by a big game trophy hunter from the United States, one of the lion’s cubs was shot dead in Zimbabwe a few days ago. The six-year-old lion named Xanda, who had been in the prime of his life, was shot and killed under similar circumstances as his father on the outskirts of Hwange National Park.

According to the Telegraph, Xanda’s death was discovered after his electronic collar monitoring the cat’s moves alerted Andrew Loveridge from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University. The Zimbabwean hunter who arranged the hunt, Richard Cooke, from RC Safaris, found the collar on the lion and turned it over to the researchers. Cooke has not announced the name of his client, however most lion hunters are from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany or South Africa.

“I fitted it last October,” stated Loveridge. It was monitored almost daily, and we were aware  that Xanda and his pride were spending a lot of time out of the park in the last six months, but there is not much we can do about that.”

According to authorities, the hunt was legal since Xanda was over six-years of age, and he was out of the protection of the park. It is hoped there will soon be a three-mile exclusion zone around the Hwange National Park, so that hunters would no longer accidentally shoot collared lions when they roam outside of the park. On the Facebook page of Lions of Hwange National Park came the devastating post about Xanda’s death:

“Today we heard that a few days ago, Xanda, the son of #CecilTheLionhas been shot on a trophy hunt by Zimbabwe PH Richard Cooke. Cooke also killed Xanda’s brother in 2015, he was only about 4 years old then. Xanda is still a young father at 6.2 years old and has several young cubs. We can’t believe that now, 2 years since Cecil was killed, that his oldest Cub #Xanda has met the same fate.

When will the Lions of Hwange National Park be left to live out their years as wild born free lions should…?”

At the time Cecil the Lion was killed, he had wandered close to the boundary when Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer paid $65,000 to shoot and kill the lion with a bow and arrow. Social media erupted when news of the beloved lion’s death was announced, and Palmer hid for weeks – including temporarily having to suspend his dental practice.

Cecil and his pure magnificent stature brought smiles and admiration from across the world. The 13-year-old lion did not die immediately that awful night he was shot, and suffered for hours until he was tracked down and killed the next day. Palmer was originally charged for illegally hunting the lion, however charges were later dropped.

Rest in peace Xanda. Why does man have to hunt for fun? Didn’t Xanda have the right to live his life too? Tell us what you think.

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(Photos of Xanda screenshot by Picasa and Facebook Lions of Hwange National Park)

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Wildlife fights back – hunter captures heart stopping moment on video

A hunter captured the heart-stopping moment that wildlife in the Fire River area of Ontario, Canada, fought back. Richard Wesley was on a spring bow hunting outing when he caught sight of a bear in the distance.

Wesley did not shoot at the approaching animal, who ambled in the distance. Suddenly, the seemingly peaceful co-existence changed and the bear charged directly at Wesley.

According to RT.com, Wesley is an experienced hunter and he knew that bears will sometimes bluff when they charge, so he stood his ground and screamed – the camera falls to the ground and for an instant, the man’s fate is unknown.

Moments later, Wesley picks up the camera and it is apparent that he is miraculously unscathed. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube on May 22, includes a few words about the frightening encounter:

I am so happy after this confrontation with a black bear during our spring hunt. No wounds except a bruised elbow and ego where the bear threw me down. Genuinely happy that this was a non fatal or tragic outcome. Proving that the black bear is a wild and unpredictable animal. Again so happy with the outcome.

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Kill a coyote in exchange for free hunting license in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is calling it the Georgia Coyote Challenge where the state is inviting people to hunt or trap coyotes to win a prize.  Humane advocates are outraged and call the hunting and trapping of the animals as cruel and absolutely inhumane. The challenge begins in March and goes to the end of August; the winner of the challenge will receive a free lifetime hunting license. On the organization’s website, the details are explained. No guidelines as to the humane killing or trapping of the animals are mentioned:

“Each coyote killed, up to five (5) a month per hunter/trapper, will earn an entry into a monthly drawing for a lifetime license (or equal credit for purchase of hunting/fishing licenses)*.

Currently, scientific research suggests that removal of coyotes during the spring and summer is the most advantageous time to reduce the impact of predation on native wildlife. We want to encourage coyote removal efforts during this critical period.”

For the last ten years, the Atlanta Coyote Project has been documenting and tracking coyotes in the Atlanta area and contend the hunt coincides with pup-rearing season where both the male and female are involved in raising and feeding their offspring. If the killing is initiated and both parents are killed, the puppies will all starve to death or be attacked by other predators. According to the Atlanta Coyote Project’s Facebook, the state agency’s mission is to “sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources” and to sponsor such a program is reprehensible. Although  the Coyote Challenge  refers to coyotes as “non-native predators,” and experts agree the animals are relatively recent immigrants into the southeastern United States, coyotes have come to the area  because humans have killed all of the native wolves.

“Killing predators leads to unintended ecological consequences. Past efforts to eradicate wolves have clearly shown this,” state the organization.

In addition, the Atlanta Coyote Project states the following:

“Hard data showing that coyotes significantly impact the populations of other wildlife species is scant to nonexistent. Recent studies in South Carolina concluded that the negative impact of coyotes on deer populations is minimal (Kilgo et al., 2016). Secondly, we do not believe that coyote “removal” will reduce the population long-term. More than likely, it will lead to an INCREASE in coyote numbers over time as competition is reduced and a resurgence occurs. To see the ineffectiveness of lethal control as a wildlife management strategy, one needs to look no further than the estimated 70,000 coyotes that are killed each year by the USDA’s Wildlife Services.”

The Atlanta Coyote Project is working with state legislators to ban this type of hunting challenge, which they say other states have done. For more information or to contact the Georgia  Department of Natural Resources, click here.

(Photo courtesy of Atlanta Coyote Project)

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Click here to read about another coyote recently removed and killed  from a restaurant in New Orleans. Animal advocates were outraged.