House Natural Resources Committee Passes Bills to Protect Big Cats, Sharks, Species Killed for Sport

Photo by Vlad Karpinsky
Photo by Vlad Karpinsky

Washington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commends the House Natural Resources Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), for passing bills today to protect big cats, sharks and wild animals hunted for sport. The bills now await votes by the full chamber.

“Wildlife species suffer when they become targets of human greed and exploitation,” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Whether it’s a tiger imprisoned in a cramped cage, a shark left to drown after his fins were sliced off, or a rhino who suffers a brutal death so that her head can be mounted on a wall, there is no excuse for using these majestic animals for entertainment or luxury products. Thank you to the bill sponsors and to the Natural Resources Committee for moving forward legislation that protects wild animals from abuse.”

The Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1380), introduced by Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), would prohibit the possession of big cats by private owners. Wild animals imprisoned in basements or backyards not only suffer immensely, but also pose a serious risk to the safety of the surrounding community. The bill would also restrict direct physical contact between the public and big cats, putting an end to “cub petting” operations and the vicious breeding cycles on which they depend.

The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 737), introduced by Representatives Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-MP) and Michael McCaul (R-TX), would prohibit the sale, purchase and possession of shark fins in the United States. This would help end the global shark fin trade, which results in the deaths of approximately 73 million sharks every year. More than 30 percent of shark species are threatened with extinction, impacting the viability of ocean ecosystems, which, in turn, leads to the loss of other fish populations.

The Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act (CECIL Act) (H.R. 2245), introduced by Grijalva, addresses the needless slaughter of imperiled wildlife by trophy hunters. This legislation would greatly limit the ability of sport hunters to import trophies of species that have been proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), such as giraffes, but have not yet been granted the protections afforded by the law. It would also promote greater transparency by requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to publish each import permit application it receives for a threatened or endangered species. In addition, the bill would reverse shortsighted policies implemented by the current administration by prohibiting the importation of elephant or lion trophies from Tanzania, Zimbabwe or Zambia, where these species have experienced severe population declines.

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