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Conservationists sue Interior over trophy hunting council

A team of conservation groups on Wednesday sued the Interior Department, claiming that the International Wil...

Posted: Aug 2, 2018 6:04 AM
Updated: Aug 2, 2018 6:04 AM

A team of conservation groups on Wednesday sued the Interior Department, claiming that the International Wildlife Conservation Council, which advises Secretary Ryan Zinke on trophy hunting, violates federal law.

The lawsuit alleges the council violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act in several ways, including by granting a large role on the committee to individuals who advocate for, or will profit from, international hunting of species such as lions, elephants and rhinos. The lawsuit also accuses the council of holding "secret" meetings that were not properly disclosed or open to the public.

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Since the panel's creation last fall, the conservation groups have criticized it as lacking balanced viewpoints. The council met for the first time in March.

"Allegedly designed to promote conservation, the Council actually exists to promote the antithesis of sound conservation policy: the hunting of imperiled species as a means to import their heads, hides, tusks, feet, and other body parts," the lawsuit claims.

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said the council "looks at several big issues related to wildlife conservation including stopping illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching." She referred questions regarding the lawsuit to the Department of Justice, which did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Democracy Forward, a left-leaning advocacy and watchdog group that represents the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States.

The lawsuit claims the council is composed "almost exclusively with individuals who retain personal and financial interest in reducing the cost of killing or importing exotic animals and their parts" and excludes scientists, economists and experts in wildlife conservation.

It notes that the group's membership includes proponents of trophy hunting, including representatives of Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association.

Near the time the council was created, Zinke's Interior Department announced plans to overturn a ban on elephant trophy importation instituted by the Obama administration. That decision was put on hold and a new permitting process instituted after President Donald Trump called trophy hunting a "horror show."

The council has met publicly twice, and has a third meeting scheduled for the fall. The groups filing suit write that they are concerned the council is developing policy recommendations and they "can only conclude that they will be permanently shut out of Council business."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333180

Reported Deaths: 7502
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22901279
Hinds22780438
Harrison19569326
Rankin14851287
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Lee10437179
Jones8746169
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Clay192254
Clarke182080
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Calhoun177532
Smith175935
Yalobusha169440
Walthall141548
Lawrence137726
Greene135734
Amite132843
Noxubee131635
Perry131038
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Carroll124531
Webster117532
Jefferson Davis113334
Tunica111127
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Claiborne104331
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Humphreys99133
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw81319
Wilkinson74632
Jefferson69728
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 570667

Reported Deaths: 11483
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson834821584
Mobile45819855
Madison36785532
Tuscaloosa26757465
Shelby26612255
Montgomery25739624
Baldwin23810325
Lee16801181
Calhoun15130332
Morgan14941289
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Houston11515292
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Walker7594286
Autauga7419113
Jackson7269117
Blount7184139
Colbert6583142
Coffee6045131
Dale5326117
Russell465842
Chilton4645117
Covington4579125
Franklin444381
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Escambia420082
Chambers3852125
Dallas3688163
Clarke364462
Marion3380106
Pike324879
Lawrence3192101
Winston291072
Bibb280165
Geneva271583
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Barbour243461
Pickens239162
Butler236172
Hale231878
Fayette224564
Henry205145
Randolph194944
Cherokee193948
Monroe192141
Washington177139
Macon167552
Crenshaw164458
Clay162559
Cleburne159145
Lamar149538
Lowndes144354
Wilcox129231
Bullock125642
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Perry109928
Sumter108032
Greene97836
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