Conservation and animal protection groups sued the Trump administration today for illegally establishing the “International Wildlife Conservation Council,” an advisory panel stacked with people who have personal or financial interests in killing or importing rare or endangered animals from overseas. Federal law requires government advisory panels to be balanced and not improperly influenced by special interests.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by Democracy Forward on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, asserts that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service flagrantly violated federal law by appointing a council packed with trophy hunters firearm executives and representatives of businesses with close ties to the Trump administration.
The IWCC is designed to promote the “removal of barriers” to trophy imports. Zinke, however, has refused to include conservation experts on the council, instead selecting trophy hunters and representatives of financially conflicted business interests. Four of the 17 council members had signed on to host a “Camouflage and Cufflinks” inaugural ball last year, soliciting millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
Trump called big game hunting a “horror show” in 2017, just weeks after his Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned an Obama-era ban on importing elephant trophies and sanctioned the hunting of lions in several countries. According to a Humane Society International report, trophy hunting has caused the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals since 2005.