Insight Into New Trophy Definition: The US Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor has issued an opinion on the seizure of those handiworked white rhino parts I previously told you about. You’ll remember this was the first seizure of white rhino parts converted into handicraft items before import (ice buckets, bowls and swish). The seizure was the result of the USF&WS’s reworked definition of a sport-hunted trophy, which excludes worked items. The Solicitor’s opinion provides insight into this new USF&WS regulation. He writes:
“The Southern White Rhinoceros is listed at 50 CFR § 23.23 as a species protected by Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES is an international treaty that regulates trade in listed species, and the US is a signatory of the treaty as is the country of South Africa. Species listed pursuant to CITES are potentially threatened with extinction, which requires strict adherence to applicable CITES regulations. CITES is enforced in the US by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. § 1538(c) and the regulations pertaining to CITES enforcement are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations at Title 50, Part 23.
“Pursuant to 50 CFR § 23.12(a)(2)(i) in order to import into the US any wildlife or plant listed in Appendix II from any foreign country, a valid foreign export permit issued by the country of origin, or a valid foreign re-export certificate issued by the country of re-export, must be obtained prior to such importation and presented upon demand to applicable United States customs agents at the time of entry into the United States. Persons violating these provisions may be assessed a civil penalty pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1540(a) of up to $10,000 for each violation or pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1540(b) criminal sanctions of a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment of up to one year, or both. Wildlife seized for CITES violations may also be subject to forfeiture proceedings under 16 U.S.C. § 1540(e)(4)(A).
“Generally, required permits and certificates for listed CITES species, as well as endangered or threatened species, intended for import into the US must be obtained prior to import. Generally, permits and certificates obtained after the date of import into the US are unacceptable.
“I am the senior attorney in the Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior, charged with the responsibility to adjudicate your Petition for Remission. As the deciding official, the first step in my analysis is to determine whether your import of the Southern White Rhinoceros parts violated United States law or regulations. Summarily, I conclude that your import of the Southern White Rhino parts did violate current United States law and regulations for the following reason. While the Southern White Rhinoceros is listed as an Appendix II species, that Appendix listing is reserved solely for the international trade in live animals and for sport-hunted trophies. At the time of import you possessed two South African CITES export permits: one bearing an “H” in block 5a indicating it was for a sport-hunted Southern White Rhino consisting of the horns shield mount, skull, cape and backskin. The other CITES export permit beared a “P” in block 5a indicating it was personal items consisting of a Southern White Rhino tailswish, two feet ice buckets, and two feet bowls. The CITES permit with an “H” was sufficient to release to you the indicated sport-hunted Southern White Rhino parts. However, the CITES permit with a “P” indicating the items were personal possessions changed the appendix listing of your Southern White Rhino import from Appendix II to Appendix I because all specimens of this species other than live or sport-hunted trophies are deemed to be Appendix I and the trade in them shall be regulated accordingly. As you point out in your petition, the current regulations define “sport-hunted” to not include “articles made from a trophy, such as worked, manufactured, or handicraft items.” 50 CFR § 23.74.
“Pursuant to 50 CFR § 23.12(2)(i) in order to import into the US any wildlife or plant listed in Appendix I from any foreign country, a US import permit and a valid foreign export permit issued by the country of origin, or a valid foreign re-export certificate issued by the country of re-export, must be obtained prior to importation and presented to US customs agents at the time of entry into the US. In this case you possessed the foreign (South Africa) CITES export permit but not a United States import permit. Wherefore, your import of the Southern White Rhinoceros parts was illegal as a violation of the current US regulations.”
It remains to be seen if the import would have been allowed had the hunter made timely application for an Appendix I import permit. If you wish to try, we advise you to do so long before the item is handicrafted so that you can cancel the work if necessary.
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Give a gift that gives more and counts more. Give a gift that reintroduces or awakens a more perfect quality of life in the out-of-doors. Just think of the effect that a Cabela’s gift under every tree in America this year would have in awakening and beckoning the public out into the natural world. It is one of the most effective things you can do to save hunting and to serve your friends and the natural world. Cabela’s catalog web site is www. cabelas.com; or order by phone at 800-237-4444. - John J. Jackson, III.