How to Avoid Lacey Act Violations: The most serious way for hunters who travel to get into trouble with the law is to violate the Lacey Act. If you import a trophy or attempt to import a trophy that has been taken in violation of the law of another state, foreign country or tribal area, you have violated the Lacey Act. It may be treated as a civil offense, a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on what is your perceived intent and the cost of the hunt. A mere attempt is enough to commit the offense. Aiding and abetting another hunter is also enough to be an offense. I’ve couched the below advice in the most general terms to focus on the one simple way to avoid prosecution.
How can you avoid prosecution? First, avoid any and all wildlife law violations of the state or country where you are hunting. A simple misdemeanor out-of-state or out-of-the-country can be converted into a federal felony when the trophy crosses state or country lines. It is not double jeopardy to be prosecuted and/or fined for violation of state/foreign law where an underlying offense occurred and for violation of the federal Lacey Act. Second, it’s best not to bring a trophy home when in doubt. No trophy is worth it. The Lacey Act is a really tough law that can ruin you, your family and your life, so you have to protect yourself. Be on your toes, but when in doubt, don’t bring it back! Mistakes and snap decisions are made in the field. Should you make a mistake or be in doubt about the legality of something you did afield, then don’t import the trophy. The Lacey Act does not “kick in” until the trophy (any part of an illegally-taken animal including the meat) is imported, or you attempt to import it or assist someone else in the importation of an illegally taken animal. Protect yourself from escalating the out-of-state or out-of-country misdemeanor into a federal felony by deciding right now as you read this to never import a trophy when in doubt and without total assurance that it was taken legally. It’s simple – Don’t Import It. The importation or the interstate transportation is the essence of the offense. Be smart, leave it there!
African Wildlife Heritage Dinner: The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA), has announced that it will once again host a gala dinner to raise revenue for black empowerment. This will be the group’s second gala dinner. The first was in May 2007 at Johannesburg’s Sandton Sun. It raised 704,000 Rand, which went towards bursaries for training black students in wildlife management at the South African Wildlife College (SAWC) operated by WWF of South Africa and underwritten by the Peace Parks Foundation.
The upcoming gala will be held April 4, 2008 at the Intercontinental Sandton Sun and Towers in Johannes- burg. PHASA is the largest professional hunting association in the world, a decade-long “Supporting” sponsor of Conservation Force and is taking the lead in developing model practices that will benefit all. For more information on the gala dinner, PHASA can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antis Attack Leopard Imports from Uganda and Mozambique: There is growing reason to be concerned with the import of leopard trophies. In September, the Species Survival Network, SSN, filed a letter comment with the USF&WS Division of Scientific Authority to “urge the United States to utilize domestic measures under the Endangered Species Act to not allow imports of leopards from Uganda because there is no scientific basis for this export quota.” The comment goes on “Similarly, we urge the United States to utilize domestic measures to not allow imports of more than 60 leopards (the quota was increased from 60 to 120 at COP14) from Mozambique because there is no scientific basis for the increased export quota of 120 leopards agreed at COP14.”
The comment states that the SSN had written the USF&WS opposing the quotas before CITES COP14 and suggests that is the rationale the USF&WS International Section relied upon when it published its formal opposition to both quota proposals for COP14. The USF&WS got itself in a “trick bag” when it did that because the scientific basis cited in the two proposed leopard quotas is virtually identical to that used in the past for all existing leopard quotas and even the ESA downlisting of leopard by the USF&WS from “endangered” to “threatened”. On top of that, the USF&WS’s International Section has just adopted regulations effective September 24, 2007 to the effect that they will not accept quotas adopted at a COP by the Parties without making their own separate biological and management non-detriment determination. Over the objection of the hunting community and range states, the USF&WS has knowingly added new obligations upon itself that can be judicially enforced by the litigious animal rights groups. We’ve seen all of this coming, but our pleas to the International section and the Administration have been ignored.
Of course, the leopard is not really at risk at all, much less from trophy hunting and both quotas are de minimus. Also, low quotas such as these don’t justify multi-million dollar studies and delays. However, we are greatly concerned because of the USF&WS’s formal opposition at CITES COP14 that basically quotes the anti’s rationale and the International Section’s newly codified, self-imposed regulations. Even though the support or passage of rhino and leopard quotas at COP14 are confirmation that the world embraces safari hunting as a force for conservation, such resolutions to facilitate that select kind of trade no longer carry more than nominal weight within the USF&WS bureaucracy.
All of this said, Conservation Force will again represent all leopard import permit applicants from Uganda and those with tags above 60 in Mozam- bique as a pro bono public service. We are in the midst of preparing the filing of the first import permit from Uganda now and have been working with the authorities of both countries from the inception of both quota requests.
The SSN comment is signed by the coordinator of the North American Regional Bureau of the SSN by a gentleman who used to head the North American division of TRAFFIC and by the Chair of the SSN’s Trophy Hunting Working Group, Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D. of HSUS. Furthermore it lists the following particular “SSN Member organizations” that join in the letter: Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Protection Institute, Animal Welfare Institute, Animals Asia Foundation, Born Free Foundation, Born Free USA, Care for the Wild International, Cetacean Society International, Co-Habitat, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Fast Forward Foundation, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, Humane Society International-Australia, International Primate Protection League, Pro Wildlife, Society for the Conservation of Marine Mammals, Wildlife Trust of India, World Society for the Protection of Animals, and Zoocheck Canada, Inc. – John J. Jackson, III.