Nearly every member of Trump’s wildlife advisory board, created in part to help shape federal laws on the import of animal parts, is a big game trophy hunter. Just let that one sink in for a minute.
Revealed by the Associated Press, the news could help explain the President's constant flip-flopping when it comes to the import of animal trophies of endangered species such as lions, elephants, and rhinos.
When he took office, Trump said he would repeal the Obama-era ban on these trophies, until there was such a public backlash that he denounced big game hunting as a “horror show”. But since then, the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has quietly reversed the ban and filled the International Wildlife Conservation Council, which is ostensibly meant to advise on issues related to the conservation of endangered animals, with trophy hunters.
“There’s little indication dissenting perspectives will be represented on the Trump administration’s conservation council,” writes the Associated Press. “Appointees include celebrity hunting guides, representatives from rifle and bow manufacturers, and wealthy sportspeople who boast of bagging the coveted 'Big Five'.”
The list of the appointees for the group almost defies belief, and gets worse the more you read.
For starters, 10 of the 16 members of the council are high-profile representatives of Safari Club International, the hunting organization that lobbied hard against the Obama-era trophy ban, which was eventually overturned. This includes the Safari Club president himself, Paul Babaz, who also happens to be the NRA’s director of hunting policy.
And then there's Peter Horn. He used to be the vice-president of the Safari Club, but has since moved on to become vice president of Beretta, the firearms manufacturer. As if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that he also co-owns a private hunting preserve in New York along with President Trump’s two sons, who, let's not forget, have both been pictured with a variety of African game, from dead leopards to elephant parts.
And remember when the Dallas chapter of the Safari Club auctioned off the chance to shoot a critically endangered black rhino in Namibia, which sparked international outrage before it was eventually sold for $350,000? Well, you’ve guessed it, the man responsible for that auction, Chris Hudson, is also on the board.
Even one of the two members not directly linked to big game hunting, Jenifer Chatfield, doesn’t get away unscathed. As a zoo and wildlife veterinarian, she appears to be a voice of reason, but her father is a somewhat disgraced zoo owner, who was expelled from the American Zoological Association following the discovery that he was importing rare animals and then selling them on, sometimes even to game farms.
Needless to say, the impartiality of the council has been called into serious question, though whether anything will actually happen as a result is uncertain.