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Lion's Hope

In a recent policy about face and a major blow to the anti-hunting organizations such as the Humane Society of the Untied States, US Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced wild and wild-managed lions from South Africa will once again be granted US import permits. However the prohibition of captive bred lions from South Africa will continue to be banned from importation.

The change in the lions status is due to the Fish & Wildlife’s determination that

scientifically-sound conservation programs that include sport hunting of wild lions can significantly contribute to the long-term survival of the species. Yes, the Director of USFWS stated unequivocally what scientists, hunters, and anyone without a political agenda already knew: sport hunting can significantly contribute to the long term survival of endangered species.

To permit the import of lion trophies under the US Endangered Species Act, exporting nations like South Africa must provide clear evidence showing a demonstrable conservation benefit to the long-term survival of the species in the wild. The service also recognized the need to work with African nations and conservation organizations to engage and empower local communities - helping them to view lions as an asset, not a liability.

Director Ashe took the analysis a step further, stating “U.S. hunters - the vast majority of whom strongly support ethical, sustainable game management - make up a disproportionately large share of foreign hunters who book trophy hunts in Africa. Their participation in well-managed hunting programs can help advance the conservation benefits provided by such programs.”

But the policy shift is not without consequences.

Recognizing the political push-back this scientifically-based policy change would bring, Director Ashe acknowledged lion populations and range is on the decline. But he said, “it’s important to understand that lions are not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting.”

“...not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting.” Even in these most PC and troubling times, the USFWS recognizes not only that ethical sport hunting does not hurt wild species, it is in fact, a tool that contributes to the ongoing viability of endangered species.

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