Last week, Safari Club International (SCI) released a statement on the United Kingdom’ Animal Welfare Plan. The Queen mentioned an upcoming animal sentience legislative package in her speech last Wednesday and the government has since released the outline of the Action Plan. The tenants of the package include sentience and enforcement, international trade and advocacy, farm animals, pets and sporting animals, and wild animals. The most harmful proposal is a trophy import ban.
Even without specifics, developing issues that could negatively affect conservation and local communities include banning trophy imports from endangered species, banning advertising experiences inappropriate in the UK, restructuring hare seasons and protections, and reviewing the use of lead ammunition and snares. This all stems from the UK’s vision of providing the so-called highest standard of animal care.
SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin has released a statement in response to the UK’s plan: “SCI is a global organization because a threat to the right to hunt in one country is a threat to hunters everywhere. While the Action Plan promotes ideals which we share, like fair chase, ethical treatment of animals, and organic food sources, SCI condemns the UK’s specific proposals to implement bans on practices that are essential to the conservation of wildlife and citizens’ reasonable right to hunt. Moreover, UK politicians must understand that import ban proposals present a danger to the sustainability of species in Africa and burdens the livelihoods of vulnerable African communities.”
Charlie Jacoby on the Fieldsports Channel in the UK tackled the possibilities and ramifications of the upcoming legislation. Two things of note: animals will be legally classified as “sentient beings” capable of valid “feelings”, and there may be exemptions in the trophy import ban for trophies from hunts proven to benefit conservation. Most hunters are very cognizant of conservation implications, so the conservation loophole could be an important success in the chiefly negative legislation. Within the Action Plan, MP Neil Parish mentions two forthcoming legislative bills: one focusing on kept animals and the other on animals abroad. He is hopeful they will stay in the realm of commonsense and not veer towards impractical animal rights legislation. The UK is notorious for “animal welfare” legislation and has close cooperation between the national media and animal rights radicals. If enacted, this legislation will have drastic effects on African communities and wildlife by reducing the benefits achieved through managed trophy hunting. Hunters across the globe not only have the deepest respect for wildlife but are also the largest contributors to conservation. Animal rights activists, and now the British government, have missed the big picture and will end up hurting the animals they claim to protect. The United Kingdom and conservationists everywhere should support SCI and work with, not against, hunters to create the best future for local communities, remaining wilderness, and wildlife.