New Elephant Regulations Proposed by USFWS

Posted On : Nov 15, 2015

Posted By : JSM

New Regulations Proposed for Elephant Hunting

New Elephant Regulations Proposed by USFWS

In the United States, the African elephant is controlled under The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES), the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, and the African Elephant Conservation Act (AfECA) of 1989.

Recently the U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&W) has proposed to revise their rules concerning the African elephant as put forth in Section 4(d) of the ESA.  Recent downturns in African elephant populations due primarily to poaching to supply the illegal trade in ivory have caused the changes to regulate the import and use of elephant parts in the United States.  The updates to the current 4(d) rule will aid in the preservation and conservation of the species.

The plan is to update current restrictions covering the import and export of ivory as covered in the AfECA rules as necessary for the conservation of the African elephant.  USF&W plans to implement these changes without restricting activities that don’t affect conservation, or are enforced under other statutes.

African elephants and their trophies are allowed by the above regulating groups to be imported as long as certain conditions are met.  Sport hunting of elephants has been shown to contribute to conservation of the species by providing needed financing for management of protected areas.  Anti-poaching training and other protective measures benefit directly from these funds. 

These new administrative actions will have little impact on elephants privately hunted.  They are mainly aimed at commercial use of elephant parts for profit.  The proposals will allow any individual hunter to import up to two elephants into the United States per year.  Legitimate taking of two elephants for a safari, or multiple safaris, self-defense during elephant-human encounters, or reducing similar encounters where appropriate will be allowed.

The moratorium on the importation of non sport-hunted ivory that was implemented in 1988 and 1989 under the AfECA will not be revised and no future changes are even being considered at this time. 

Countries that are affected by these proposed rules include Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.  Elephants in these countries have been downlisted by CITIES to Appendix II which includes species that, although not currently threatened with extinction, may become so without trade controls. It also includes species that resemble other listed species and need to be regulated in order to effectively control the trade in those other listed species.  However, Evidence must be provided to show that specimens were not obtained in violation of any state, federal, or other jurisdictional law.

These new proposals will require permits under the ESA’s requirements.  As of now, non-commercial import of Appendix II animals is exempted from these regulations.  USF&G has taken the stand that they have overriding reasons to support the permit requirement by overriding, or cancelling, the exemption.  This will add another layer of paperwork, with the inherent governmental delays and errors which, if not corrected, could result in forfeiture of the trophy, fines, delay in importation, or the possibility of arrest.  Permits will have to dovetail with passports in order to insure that both are current when the hunt and subsequent importation of trophies takes place.

This is not a positive development for hunters, as it will give the USFWS the ability to pick and choose where you can import elephants from, even if permitted by CITES.  It is only a matter of time before they will use this permitting requirement to squeeze the legitimate hunting of elephants.

The bottom line, if you want to hunt an African elephant without the hassle of applying for an import permit though the USFWS, the time to hunt your elephant is NOW!!!