All About That "Closure" Of Marco Polo Hunting


Published: March - 2001

The news emanating from Tajikistan and Kyrghizia about a closure of Marco Polo hunting is not as serious as it sounds, but it is very definitely a wake-up call for the international hunting community. Here are the facts: In order to "reconcile discrepancies in paperwork" Tajikistan has closed hunting for the remainder of the 2000-2001 season. If you are booked on a Marco Polo hunt this spring in Tajikistan, it's imperative that you get in touch with your agent or outfitter right away as there is no way the hunt can be conducted legally. Certainly, the trophy you take will not be importable into the US. Pretty much the same situation applies in Kyrghizia, where the government has announced that the country's entire quota of 60 sheep has been taken.

Major investigations are going forward in both countries into "bootleg" hunts being conducted without proper permits. What's at stake is the importability of these animals into the US and, longer term, the survival of these hunts as a legal activity. Clearly, individual hunters and agents alike are going to have to work together to bring this hunt into conformance with the law. If they don't, the hunt will likely be shut down.

The underlying problem here is an apparent violation of the Marco Polo quota of 70 sheep in Tajikistan and 60 in Kyrghizia. Though most observers say Marco Polo populations are on the upswing and capable of sustaining a harvest of 200 sheep or more, 70 is the official sheep harvest authorized by the Tajikistan government and accepted by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Sixty is the equivalent number in Kyrghizia. If more animals than that are taken by sport hunters, the hunt is at risk of being redlined by the US. That would result in trophy imports being halted. Globally, the hunt is at risk of coming under increased scrutiny by anti-hunting groups.

At present, most observers are confident that hunts will resume this fall under heightened scrutiny and regulation. The would-be hunter needs to be aware, however,........(continued)

 
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