WASHINGTON, March 14, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation leading the charge against the outdated and brutal sport of trophy hunting, today filed a complaint against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The suit, filed over a neglected Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about the newly formed International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), also argues that the council was formed under the guise of conservation with no balanced perspectives on the negative impact of international trophy hunting.
The IWCC, which was announced on November 8, 2017, was created, to "… advise the Secretary of the Interior on the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking programs, and other ways in which international hunting benefits human populations in these areas." Born Free submitted a FOIA request seeking information related to the duties of the IWCC, the circumstances under which it was established, and under what criteria its members were to be selected. To date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not provided a single piece of information, ignoring a deadline imposed by the law and its own self-extended deadline.
"In creating the IWCC to advise on the 'benefits' of Americans going abroad to hunt, the Department of the Interior is operating under the premise that trophy hunting has significant benefits for wildlife conservation," said Prashant Khetan, CEO and general counsel for Born Free USA. "In truth, trophy hunting does virtually nothing to aid conservation efforts. It appears this administration is set on pushing a pro-hunting agenda, apparent not just in the aims of the IWCC, but also evident in its membership. The vast majority, if not all, of the IWCC members represent pro-hunting organizations."
The IWCC will hold its first public meeting this Friday, March 16, just days after the administration lifted trophy hunting bans put into place during President Obama's tenure.
The FOIA submitted by Born Free was an active step towards finding out more about the IWCC's formation and purpose. According to the complaint, "… the members of the IWCC have now been made public, which includes officers of Safari Club International and National Rifle Association. Given these entities' close relationship with Secretary Zinke, including support during campaigns, it is perhaps not surprising that FWS [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] has been pushing a pro-hunting agenda, including the creation of the IWCC. It also is not surprising that FWS has chosen not to be transparent about the IWCC prior to its first public meeting."
"We will have a representative in attendance who, with several other groups, intends to read a statement to the IWCC challenging its purpose," Khetan said. "In addition, we reached out to our base for their comments/questions about the IWCC and, in a span of days, received over 600 responses, which we collated and submitted on their behalf – the central theme being that hunting does not constitute compassionate conservation. We believe, and have the facts to support the idea, that killing is not conservation. The species that will be most affected, including lions, elephants and white rhinos, are already in such decline that hunting them under the guise of conservation is no longer a valid excuse."
About Born Free USA
Born Free USA, a national 501(c)(3), believes that every individual animal matters. Inspired by the Academy Award®-winning film Born Free, the organization works locally, nationally, and internationally on the conservation frontlines, in communities, classrooms, courtrooms, and the halls of Congress, to end wild animal cruelty and suffering, and protect threatened wildlife.
Launched in 2002, Born Free USA was inspired by Virginia McKenna and her (late) husband Bill Travers, who, along with their son, Will, founded The Born Free Foundation (UK) in 1984. Their experience in Kenya filming the classic 1966 Academy Award®-winning film Born Free, the story of Joy and George Adamson's fight to successfully return Elsa the lioness to a wild and free life, launched the couple's "compassionate conservation" movement, aimed at keeping wildlife in the wild. This movement continues to motivate millions of followers and activists across the globe. In 2007, Born Free USA merged with the Animal Protection Institute.
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SOURCE Born Free USA