WASHINGTON (CN) – Bison hunters claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is endangering the Canadian wood bison by keeping it on the endangered species list, which prevents hunters from getting “trophy import permits,” which would encourage the hunters to preserve the animals so they could kill them. “The wood bison from Canada is listed as ‘endangered,’ and that listing is inhibiting its conservation,” the groups claim in Federal Court.
Conservation Force, of Metairie, La., four other groups and four hunters say the Fish and Wildlife Service missed its mandatory 24-month deadline for determining whether “downlisting” of the species is warranted.
The groups say that downlisting would allow issuance of “trophy import permits.” Such permits will “encourage sustainable use that will contribute to the long-term survival of this species and its permanent elimination from the ‘endangered’ listing,” according to the complaint.
The bison are thriving in the Yukon Territories, the groups claim, and they want trophy import permits so its members can hunt the species.
Plaintiffs include the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Yukon Outfitters Association, Mervyn’s Yukon Outfitting and Grand Slam Club/Ovis, and four individuals.
They claim that “due to cooperative efforts of the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Wood Bison Recovery Team, and the local Yukon government, there were more than 2,800 free-range, disease-free wood bison in Canada in 2001, in contrast to the animal’s numbers in the 19th century, which saw the population of wood bison drop from 200,000 to 250.
“The management authorities issue tourist hunting tags to help control the population while providing revenue and important incentives to tolerate the growing number of reintroduced bison,” according to the complaint.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, a creature of the Department of the Interior, denied the plaintiffs’ requests for trophy import permits.
The groups want a declaration that the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to make a determination on downlisting of the wood bison.
They are represented by Conservation Force’s attorney John Jackson III.