On July 28, 2011 the Division of Management Authority of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) denied Conservation Force’s Request for Reconsideration of the 2003 denials of various cheetah trophy applications to import cheetah hunting trophies. The permit applicants have 45 days to appeal the denial to the new Director of USF&WS.
We know from prior discussions with high-ranking officials in the Agency and above that these denials are a policy decision. The policy and practice of not granting trophy import permits for endangered listed species regardless of the merits drives the fact-finding that supports the denial. Yes, more agenda-driven science! The foremost authorities in the world have supported the ESA downlisting as well as the CITES trophy quota for cheetah and import of trophies into the USA. The Agency and Department of Interior raved about the program in Namibia and promised to grant the permits on numerous occasions in public and private. This all demonstrates that the rationale for the denials is subterfuge under the cloak of management and science. A sample or two from the new level of denials demonstrates the point.
The Agency stated, “We have been unable to determine that any portion of the fees derived from these exports is used for cheetah conservation.” To the contrary, the Agency has been provided documentation of $1,000 US dollar contributions per hunter that the hunting community used to fund the Strategic National Action Strategy, fund cheetah surveys, etc.
The Agency also accused the Namibia Professional Hunting Association of not doing its part: “The NPHA has provided no updated information on their program, and recent discussions between the NPHA and the Service did not include this topic.” This is a decade after the cheetah in issue were taken and after years of broken promises to grant the imports that were the underlying incentives for the program. The so-called “Service” killed the program itself and knows that all too well, so why the subterfuge?
The Agency went on to say: “For both the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 season, the cheetah trophy take exceeded the quota to the extent that the professional hunters association asked to have the season closed. The Service is therefore unable to find….” This event is approximately a decade after the cheetah in issue were taken. NAPHA should be commended for its preventative recommendation, not criticized.
Other reasons in the denials are worse, but space does not permit more examples. Where and when does it end?