Unsurprisingly, the once Golden State wants to ban firearms and now hunting. The latest move in Sacramento is the recent passage of Senate Bill 1487—the Iconic Africa Species Protection Act—in that respective chamber by a 5-2 vote. If passed by the CA Assembly and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, the law would forbid Californians from being in possession of certain legally harvested animals from Africa—many of which are deemed “trophy” animals.
Existing law prohibits the importation or possession of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians unless specified conditions are met, including, among other things, the animals were legally taken and legally possessed outside of this state and the Fish and Game Code and regulations adopted pursuant to that code do not expressly prohibit their possession in this state. Existing law provides that a violation of this code or any regulation adopted under this code is a crime.
Existing law makes it a misdemeanor to import into the state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state, the dead body or other part or product of specified animals, including leopards, tigers, and elephants. A violation of this provision is punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000, not to exceed $5,000, or imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed 6 months, or by both that fine and imprisonment, for each violation.
Per the bill, this ban would extend protections to “prohibit the possession of specified African species and any part, product, offspring, or the dead body or parts thereof, including, but not limited to, the African elephant or the black rhinoceros, by any individual, firm, corporation, association, or partnership within the State of California, except as specified for, among other things, use for educational or scientific purposes by a bona fide educational or scientific institution, as defined.”
The bill adds that if any Californian is in possession of aforementioned animals, dead body parts, etc., criminal penalties would be imposed—ranging from a fine to imprisonment. If someone is found in violation of this bill, if passed, they would be fined up to $10,000. Other estimations say penalties could range from $5,000 to $50,000.
NRA-ILA, the legislative wing of the National Rifle Association, noted that if passed, this bill would extend to other so-called “big game” species—adding this would violate federal and international laws like CITES:
Not only would SB 1487 violate federal law and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but the bill has no basis in science, does not recognize the great contribution of hunters to wildlife conservation and cherry picks certain African species based on popularity instead of biological necessity. While this bill deals specifically with African species, make no mistake that this is the first step towards banning hunting domestically. The same animal rights activists that support this bill have also made clear that they intend to ban all hunting in the future.
Currently, Americans may hunt Africa’s Big Five, which includes elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and cape buffalos. These hunters must obtain the proper import permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and must be legally permitted to hunt those species in the range countries. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only issues import permits for hunts that occur in countries that maintain sound conservation plans that help improve threatened and endangered wildlife. Dollars spent by American hunters fund anti-poaching operations and provide much needed funds to villages in range countries.
California recently considered a bill that would limit gun raffles to three a year—largely cutting into conservation funds for wildlife and habitat restoration efforts there. To see a bill like SB 1487 shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Trophy hunting is arguably a controversial matter, but one not too difficult to understand from a conservation angle. If this law were be to enacted, it could create a movement to outright ban possession of legally harvested animals not just from Africa, but elsewhere across the globe. Perhaps it will even extend its reach to ban American “trophy” species like Grizzly bears, mountain lions, proghorn sheep, or Roosevelt elk. That would be dangerous precedent targeting law-abiding hunters and killing off conservation efforts.
This video puts an unlikely positive spin on the conservation methods entailed with so-called trophy hunting:
Let’s hope this bill is killed, but given California’s one-party rule in Sacramento that’s unlikely to be the case. We will monitor these efforts going forward.