A group of big-game hunters, taxidermists and a national hunting-conservation organization is challenging in New Jersey federal district court a state law that bars residents from importing lion, leopard, rhino and elephant "trophies."
The suit contends the New Jersey legislature ignored "comprehensive regulations" and the Fish and Wildlife Service's use of "enhancement permits as a conservation incentive." Lawmakers, according to the suit, claimed "no special expertise in assessing the benefits of sustainable use."
The New Jersey law says "no person shall possess, transport, import, export, process, sell or offer for sale, or ship, and no common or contract carrier shall knowingly transport or receive for shipment any part or product of: any specified African species" that includes the African elephant, leopard, lion, and black and white rhinoceros.
Nearly identical bans apply under S978 to the parts or products of priority species, which are defined to include the African elephant, leopard, lion, and black and white rhino.
The state laws, according to the suit, were intended to make licensed, regulated hunting of Big Four game more difficult and less attractive to New Jersey residents by preventing them from bringing home a traditional "trophy." They fail to exempt federally authorized or permitted imports of the Big Four intended to remain in the state, the complaint said. A New Jersey resident with a valid Fish and Wildlife Service import permit, for example, cannot continue to possess, import, or transport the permitted trophy in the state.
The suit argues that the New Jersey laws "undercut the public policy of sustainable use, which is intended to generate operating revenue for wildlife authorities to fund anti-poaching, wildlife recovery, and wildlife management; to incentivize local people to tolerate or value listed species; and to preserve habitat, among other things."
Photo credits: @markjdrury
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