A number of subscribers contacted me last month in a panic because they heard that US Fish & Wildlife was not going to issue any import permits for Tanzania elephant this season. I immediately contacted Mike Carpenter, Senior Biologist at the US Fish & Wildlife Service Division of Management Authority, who told me in an e-mail, "That is not correct. We do not have the required non-detriment finding for Tanzania yet, but expect to issue permits once that finding is completed." That seemed to settle the issue, and I sent out an E-mail Extra Bulletin letting the community know. Shortly afterward, however, I received a copy of a letter sent to a hunter who had applied for an import permit. The letter is from Katherine M. Pickar, Legal Examiner for the Division of Management Authority, and explains that a permit could not be issued because the Service had not yet made a non-detriment finding for the 2009 season. "Our best `guesstimate' for the release of the finding is in late August or September of this year," she writes.
So, what does this mean for US hunters planning to hunt elephant in Tanzania this season? First of all, you should know that contrary to what you may have heard, Tanzania does not require that a US hunter have an import permit issued to him before hunting elephant. I have that from John J. Jackson, III, who was instrumental last year in clearing up a similar snafu over Tanzania elephant permits. You can legally hunt elephant in Tanzania and get your US import permit later.
Secondly, there is no CITES permit problem with Tanzania elephant. The CITES Secretariat has confirmed that the problem is not with CITES but with US Fish & Wildlife. Tanzania has the second largest elephant population in the world and is expected to surpass Botswana's population soon. There is no danger that CITES permits won't be issued, and a non-detriment finding, which is not required by CITES, should be a no-brainer.
Thirdly, Jackson has already gone into action and at this writing was........(continued)