The Animal Protection and Health Investigation Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an "emergency" rule prohibiting the import of any part of any animal from Europe. The August Notice in the Federal Register, 66 FR 42595, made no exception for hunting trophies. The "emergency rule" could even be interpreted to prohibit the import of birds and fish. Within weeks, reports were filtering into the National Taxidermy Association (NTA) that hunters' trophies were being seized for destruction and/or denied entry into the US, in which case the hunters had to bear the costs of shipping them back to Europe. The NTA immediately contacted Conservation Force because it is one of the 64 organizations that help support us.
We urgently began monitoring all the comments being filed, queried APHIS at every level, advised the membership of NTA through its web site, organized a comment campaign, consulted numerous disease authorities across the globe, made a comprehensive literature research on the disease at issue (Mad Cow Disease, or to be more precise: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy/BSE) and all related diseases, reviewed all relevant laws and regulations, explored the possibility of filing injunctive litigation, obtained expert opinion letters about BSE and filed a formal comment with the APHIS on behalf of NTA, Dallas Safari Club, Dallas Ecological Foundation, Houston Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida and the Louisiana Chapter of SCI. We supported the comment with expert letters from International Game Foundation and Conseil International du Chasse that are based in Europe. We also shared our information as it developed with others like Mike Simpson, who was greatly concerned and working hard to resolve the issue.
As I write this, the problem appears to be over. APHIS has issued an "urgent" directive stating that skulls and horns of game animals taken by hunters are not covered by the emergency rule prohibiting imports of animal parts. BSE is a bovine (beef/cattle) disease that is not know to exist in game animals, much less known to be passed horizontally from cows to game.
If you have a problem with a trophy import, the letter directive is readily available. We forwarded copies of that directive letter to National Taxidermy Association headquarters, to Safari Club International, to the Hunting Report and to all Conservation Force supporting organizations the hour it was issued. In due course, we expect APHIS to issue a Final Rule with an express clarification that trophies of game animals are not included. We have formally asked that such an exemption be expedited, but the process may take a year or more.
"Mad Cow Disease" (BSE) is a fatal disease that kills the bovine through its brain and nerve system. It does not exist in North America. It is different than various diseases reported in game animals in the US and Canada, though the media sometimes confuse them. It is a cattle disease that is believed to be spread through feed or meal fed to cattle when the feed contains parts of other cattle that had the disease. There was a longstanding practice to turn waste parts of cattle into feed mixture that has been discontinued.
Copies of the joint comment filed by Conservation Force, as well as all others are available from us. Ask for it by fax at: 504-837-1145. Or e-mail your request to Conservation Force headquarters at: email@example.com. The joint comment filed by Conservation Force can also be found on our web site at www.conservationforce.org. Click on: News and Alerts.
On October 16, 2001, APHIS added Japan to the list of countries from which animal parts are prohibited entry, 66 FR 52483. That notice is worded more favorably to hunters. That Notice allows 60 days for comments, but like the earlier notice for European countries, it is effective immediately as an "emergency." The Japan import closure arises from confirmation that a single dairy farm cow that was slaughtered on August 6 at an abattoir had BSE after analysis of a sample of its brain. The Japanese authorities reported that they are inspecting all cattle farms in Japan and all feed mills to collect information on the use of meat-and-bone meal as feed, the assumed transfer vector. Again, it is a disease in cattle, not game. We will continue to monitor the Federal Register for additional notices. That is just one of our daily services to the hunting community.
Antis File Suit To Stop Swan Hunting
In early October, anti-hunters filed suit to enjoin the US Fish and Wildlife Service's (USF&WS) swan hunting management strategy in Utah, Montana and Nevada. The suit was filed by the Fund for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, the Utah Environmental Congress and others. The alleged heart of the complaint is the quota of 25 trumpeter swans that the USF&WS recently authorized to be incidentally taken by waterfowl hunters during the tundra swan season. The antis real objective has been to prohibit all swan hunting to protect trumpeter swans that may be accidentally killed during the hunt. An experimental swan hunt that began in 1995 has demonstrated that very few trumpeters are mistakenly shot by hunters. The trumpeters are among the largest waterfowl in the world with wingspans of seven to eight feet. They have not been commonly mistaken for tundra swans.
The suit is another example of the persistence of anti-hunters. In the past, they filed two petitions to list the trumpeter swan under the Endangered Species Act. As in the Argali case, the antis have attempted to force its listing as endangered. They also filed suit last year challenging the USF&WS's hunting-related Environmental Assessment (EA) of swan hunting. In settlement, the Service re-did that EA. The antis are now challenging that new EA.
Conservation Force has supported the USF&WS's management strategy, commented in the EA process and led a campaign to keep swan hunting open despite nominal take of trumpeter swans during the hunt. The antis claim that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act "does not in any way direct the Service to 'optimize' hunting .... ." We have this suit under review and may intervene if there is sufficient support for an intervention. The Washington, DC law firm of Meyer and Glitzenstein that filed this suit also filed the recent Argali suit. A copy of the suit is available from Conservation Force by calling 504-837-1233.
DATELINE: WASHINGTON, DC
News... News... News
Wildlife Partners Invited to White House
Someone from Conservation Force goes to Washington, DC in your behalf at least every month. Since June, Dr. James Teer, James Beers or I have been to Washington, DC more than 8 times (that eight times in five months). My trip to Washington in early October was especially promising. Through Ducks Unlimited, one of the 38 Wildlife Conservation Partners (WCP), the members of WCP were invited to a White House-level meeting in furtherance of the WCP mission. The 90-minute meeting between the leading national sportsmen's conservation organizations in America and the top-echelon White House staff, advisors and Cabinet-level officials covered an array of topics of common interest to sportsmen conservationist of America.
James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). readily credited the WCP partners (America's sportsmen and sportswomen) with being our nation's conservation stakeholders and stewards to which the Administration should and will look for policy guidance. He solicited us to furnish him our views on major issues and help the administration forge new wildlife conservation "innovations" that assure stewardship, self-compliance and interactive consensus including involvement of local stakeholders. We were thanked for the WCP booklet, "Wildlife for the 21st Century, Recommendations to President George W. Bush," that contains 11 wildlife conservation recommendations to the president. We went over many of those recommendations.
The White House officials made it clear that they want our input. "Don't be shy with your ideas," said David Anderson, the Associate Director of Legislative and External Affairs of the White House CEQ.
The Executive Office of the President has since written Conservative Force, stating: "As we discussed, this Administration will seek to integrate conservation and stewardship into programs across the government, so that the dialogue no longer is about, for example, farmers versus the environment but instead is about how rural communities, farm families, and ecosystems can thrive together. The Administration's approach will be to encourage and recognize stewardship, seek innovative approaches and new technologies, utilize incentive-based programs, work in partnership with state, local and private groups, rely on strong science for policymaking and insist on compliance with our laws.
"We also have the opportunity, at this time in our country's history, to do a better job of telling the stories of our environmental and natural resource successes, of informing the American people about where we have more work to do, and of developing the innovative, effective tools to achieve our stewardship goals. In partnership with you and your members, I am confident that we can deliver meaningful gains in these areas. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and other members of the White House team. I look forward to working with you on these and other important issues."
New Development In Argali Suit... Polar Bear Area Closed... More
Affronted Mongolia Appeals: We have filed an appeal on behalf of Mongolia in the Argali lawsuit. The trial judge denied Mongolia's motion to intervene in the suit without giving any oral or written reasons when the anti-hunters that brought the suit opposed the intervention of Mongolia. It had to be appealed. It is unfair that an organization in Mongolia and anti-hunting organizations and interest in the US are being permitted to threaten Mongolia's Argali conservation base, when Mongolia itself is kept from participating! Though it is a great deal more pro bono work for Conservation Force, the principles involved under the US Endangered Species Act are just too important to ignore. Moreover, we don't want Mongolia and other countries to "wash their hands" of the United States as a result of such offensive disregard of sovereign interest. If there is a valid reason for Mongolia's exclusion, it must be spelled out. If Mongolia does not have sufficient interest to be in the suit to protect its interest, then neither do those who brought the suit whose interest is, at best, remote in comparison to Mongolia's.
We still have not received a fraction of the financial support we need to see this case through. We have filed four motions to date, and we should file and see through at least four more. For that, we need your support. No one is doing more. It is now or never. Please send your tax-deductible contribution to Conservation Force at One Lakeway Center, 3900 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 1045, Metairie, LA 70002.
Rule Withdraws Polar Bear Area For Possibly 25 Years: The USF&WS has issued a Final Rule withdrawing approval of the M'Clintock Channel Polar bear population for the import of sport-hunted trophies, 66 FR 50843. This was expected. The polar bear population in this area was overestimated. Therefore, the USF&WS has to stop issuing import permits until that population is "to a level where they can sustain some limited harvest" again, according to Marshal Jones, Acting USF&WS Director. Canada itself has imposed a hunting moratorium for 2001/2002. A recovery strategy is being established by Canada and the USF&WS promises to consider again approving the imports when the data again warrants it. Conservation Force made a thorough review of this closure when it was proposed and tracked it as it has evolved. We also filed a formal comment, which the USF&WS expressly acknowledges five times in its Final Rule.
Imports from the area had been allowed since 1997. The best new population estimate is 367 bears, although the studies are continuing. It was thought to be 700 and the USF&WS thinks its historical baseline was 900. New population data is expected in 2002 and will be furnished by Canada to the USF&WS as it becomes available. The import quota that was based on too high a population estimate is thought to have been a cause of further decline, even though it was less a decline than it would have been if nonresident hunters had not helped to shift the harvest to males and away from females. Even with no harvest, the population is expected to increase only four percent annually and take 25 years to double, indicating "that a long-term moratorium may be necessary," according to the Service. Copies of the Rule are available from Conservation Force by calling 504-837-1233.
Elephant Relocation In World's Largest Park: The first 40 of 1,000 elephants to be moved from Kruger National Park in the Republic of South Africa to Mozambique were moved in early October. The Gaza-Kruger-Gonorezhou trans-frontier park is a Peace Park Foundation project that has developed into the creation of the largest wildlife park in the world. Kruger has 9,000 elephants and will still have that many after the 1,000 are fully transferred over a three-year period because of the elephant population growth rate. The more than 8,000 left will multiply. Ironically, animal rights groups are hailing the transfer as an alternative to other management strategies such as culling. In reality, the elephants will be a BIGGER problem once the park elephants fill the combined, greater-elephant-carrying capacity of the enlarged area.
Important Botswana Predator Workshop: An important workshop was held in Botswana in early October that should be a giant step towards reopening lion hunting in that country. The Ministry, stakeholders, leading lion biologists and regional experts all participated in the meeting. The Kalahari Conservation Society hosted the workshop which costs approximately $40,000(US). The largest share of the costs of the meeting was borne by Steven Chancellor through the Lions Forever Fund that has been created at Steven's suggestion and is administered by Conservation Force. Donations to the Lions Forever Fund through Conservation Force are tax deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law as Conservation Force is a 501(c)3 public foundation. The Lions Forever Fund is bound to play a significant role in helping Botswana maintain its record of exemplary lion conservation and management. The Houston Safari Club, a supporting partner of Conservation Force, also contributed a significant sum towards the workshop costs, as did the Botswana Wildlife Management Association (BWMA) that represents Botswana's professional hunters and companies.
Thanks is due to Steven Chancellor, a truly committed African lion conservationist, Houston Safari Club and BWMA for bearing all of the costs of this important meeting. They are playing a large and important role in the long-term conservation of lions in Botswana, and they fully deserve credit for doing so. You can expect a lot more about the Lion Forever Fund in the future. - John J. Jackson, III.
For more information on Conservation Force and/or the services available through Jackson’s alliance with The Hunting Report, write:
One Lakeway Center
Metairie, LA 70002.
Tel. 504-837-1233. Fax 504-837-1145.