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SOS Rhino : In the News : Endangered Species Importation Proposal Defies Logic, Common Sense

Endangered Species Importation Proposal Defies Logic, Common Sense

  From National Wildlife Federation

Monday, October 20, 2003

Statement by John Kostyack, National Wildlife Federation Senior Counsel, on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Proposed Changes to Endangered Species Importation Policy

Published October 17, 2003, in conjunction with comment filing deadline on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed changes to endangered species importation policy

"If the issues involved weren't so serious, you'd have to laugh.

"The Bush administration is telling us with a straight face that the best way to protect endangered species in poor countries is to allow those species to be hunted or captured, then sold in the United States.

"The administration assures us that proceeds from these sales will help the poor countries protect their remaining endangered wildlife.

"Poaching for conservation? It's a bit like drinking for sobriety.

"In its latest effort to distort the letter and spirit of America's environmental laws, the Bush administration is claiming that its proposal is compatible with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But when Congress passed the ESA, it never intended to declare open season on endangered species abroad. Quite the contrary - the purpose of listing imperiled foreign species as "endangered" is to protect them, not to create incentives for their capture and death.

"Any way the administration tries to spin it, sanctioning the hunting and capture of species already on the brink of extinction is foolish and dangerous.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which would oversee the program, would have no power to guarantee that foreign countries would put the revenue towards conservation.

"The Bush administration intends to give hunters access to species currently off-limits. But no responsible hunter would want to kill endangered wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation supports working with hunters to promote wildlife conservation.

"This proposal isn't just bad for endangered species worldwide - it could also hurt people here at home. The recent spread of diseases like SARS, monkey pox, West Nile virus and AIDS from animals to people highlights the need to strengthen wildlife trade regulations, not to ease them.

"The National Wildlife Federation recognizes that there's a black market for wildlife, and that it's important to give poorer countries economic incentives to protect their endangered species. But the Bush administration's proposal is not the answer. It will encourage further decimation of endangered species, not their preservation. It will increase the demand for endangered wildlife trophies, not reduce it. It will make a bad situation worse.

"This absurd proposal doesn't just fail endangered species and the countries they inhabit.

"It also fails the laugh test."