Notification of the release came two months after Tajik authorities sent a clarification correcting the typographical error for the hunting dates listed on the paperwork and weeks after they sent a letter in October verifying that all the trophies were hunted legally. USFWS delayed releasing the trophies until the expiration date (November 10) on the notification of detainment they had sent to the hunters when the trophies were originally detained. By that date the Service either had to officially confiscate (and possibly destroy) the trophies for illegal importation or release them.
We also reported last month that there was still some ambiguity as to whether hunting in Tajikistan had been closed for next year or not. As we told you, the president of Tajikistan had stated he was closing hunting beginning in January 2009, but no official decree was ever issued in writing. According to Gretchen Stark of Safari Outfitters, the matter was finally made official in a meeting held in Dushanbe sometime in October and where the head of the Department of Forestry finally produced paperwork detailing the closure through 2011.
Despite that, efforts were already underway to reopen hunting in 2010, and once USFWS finally released the trophies mentioned above, we received word from Tajikistan that work was moving forward to ensure the reopening. That work involves collecting the scientific data required by USFWS so they can make their nondetriment finding regarding the hunting of argali sheep in Tajikistan. Sources tell us that Tajikistan will meet the Service's May deadline to........(continued)