On July 29, SCI submitted a comment letter urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to grant 17 permit applications for the import of sport-hunted bontebok from South Africa. Since early 2018, SCI has submitted dozens of comment letters in support of bontebok importation. Unfortunately, the Service has delayed processing these applications since 2017. For the 100-plus hunters who are waiting to import their bontebok trophies, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In March, the Service finally began processing pending applications. SCI is aware that some permits have been granted, while others have been denied. As detailed in SCI’s letter, the Service’s denials contradict the fact that bontebok hunting on private game ranches in South Africa has essentially saved the species from extinction. Simply, hunting enhances the survival of the species, and the Service should grant the import permits.
SCI’s letter focuses on two sticking points for the Service. First, the Service faults South Africa for not having a signed (i.e., adopted) national management plan prior to December 2019. And second, the Service is now requiring documentation of genetic analysis of the bontebok herd from which the hunt occurred. A registration certificate is no longer sufficient; the Service wants to see DNA test results. if you are waiting on a permit or planning to hunt bontebok, note that your application will be stronger, and perhaps processed more quickly, to the extent you can submit information showing implementation of a management plan and provide DNA test results for the bontebok herd.
In the last month, the Service has published notice of more than 30 other pending import applications, opening public comment opportunities for those applications. Many more will likely be published in the coming months. SCI will submit comment letters for each applicant and continue to urge the Service to grant the import applications before bontebok conservation programs are irreparably harmed.