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Pity the poor lion hunters

Gag me.

Houston was once the nation’s top destination for African lions killed by U.S. trophy hunters, but public backlash and new federal restrictions have all but ended the sport, according to a group of big game hunters that has launched a campaign to bring it back.

Since 2015 when a dentist from Minnesota killed Cecil, a famed lion in Zimbabwe, the U.S. government has made sport hunting of lions and elephants so difficult as to discourage most hunters from even trying to navigate all of the paperwork, said wildlife attorney and hunting advocate John Jackson III.

“It’s worse than it has ever been,” said Jackson, who is chairman of a group called Conservation Force that advocates for big game hunting. “Now it’s almost impossible to get permits.”

While animal rights groups might see that as a victory, Jackson said they are losing sight of millions of dollars that hunters — and Texans in particular — have poured into African nations to support animal conservation. Over 10 years, almost $1.1 million went from just the Dallas Safari Club to lion conservation projects around the world. The Houston Safari Club — which has about 1,200 members — has reported donating more than $3.7 million for animal conservation work worldwide.

In May the Houston Safari Club launched a federal political action committee to raise money that could be used to influence political campaigns. And the club has increased its political commentary on its website, declaring it is “ramping up its legislative and policy efforts” and vowing to “grow our voice.”

Federal records confirm that imports of lions to Houston and other U.S. destinations have plummeted.

[…]

The Humane Society of the United States, on the other hand, has argued that hunters are overstating their impact and that lions and other endangered species can be promoted by supporting wildlife tourism expeditions.

Anna Frostic, managing wildlife attorney for the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, said trophy hunters like to claim their actions promote animal conservation, because that is what they have to prove legally in order to go on their hunts. She said on the face of it, it’s clear that killing individual animals doesn’t add to protecting the species.

“At the very least it is counter intuitive, and we would argue unethical and biologically unsubstantiated,” Frostic said.

Yeah, the whole “we must be able to kill lions in order to save them” argument doesn’t carry any weight with me. The Houston Safari Club could – stay with me here – just simply donate that same amount of money to conservation efforts without hunting lions. Maybe photograph them instead, I dunno. Beyond that, I can’t imagine a less sympathetic group right now than a bunch of rich guys whining about not being able to shoot things.

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3 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    So, Kuff, are you opposed to African countries selling permits to kill animals that are going to be culled, gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars for conservation and anti-poaching efforts? Keep in mind that the animals are going to be killed in any case, either because they are a threat to humans, are destroying crops, or because there are too many of them in a given area. The alternative is the animals are killed by a local game ranger, with no additional benefit to the local economy.

    I see the Humane society and others pushing tourism as the only solution, but it’s a fact that the tourists don’t spend anywhere near the amount of money that hunters do, and never will. One hunter spending upwards of $100k for a single hunt puts more money in the local economy that 20 tourists.

  2. C.L. says:

    I got an idea – sell hunters, at pennies in the dollar when compared to the cost of shooting lions or rhinos, trips to Flatonia (kinda looks like, Africa, right ?) so they can satisfy whatever need they have to kill something, and shoot… feral hogs ! Certainly a harder shoot, them pesky pigs, that aiming at an aged, possibly doped, big game animal. Giraffes and elephants ? Too slow moving and too easy to scope. Try hunting a herd of fifty pigs through an open soybean field from a helicopter if you want to satisfy that need.

    #WinWin

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    C.L.:

    Not sure about the “pennies on the dollar” part, but you can already book any number of canned hunts on Texas ranches where you can shoot non native exotics. I don’t think there are any places to shoot giraffes or rhinoceroses here, though.

    But encouraging that defeats the goal of putting money into the 3rd World African nations where we all want to preserve the native animal species. Tourism is one of the few sources of revenue those people have, and that revenue helps fund anti poaching efforts. Those funds help support conservation efforts, paying for sanctuary lands, as an example.

    Personally, I don’t get the fascination with killing exotic animals. I do totally support the taking of game animals locally, though. People should understand where their food comes from. Taking a deer, or a hog, field dressing it, quartering it….these are skills every person should have.

    The other thing to consider…..wild hogs, those descendants of domestic hogs that got loose from the Spanish colonists, are a huge economic and ecosystem problem in Texas. They need to be controlled, so how would you propose to do that?