Wildlife & Sport-Hunted Trophies Input Sought


     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requests input on sport-hunted trophies and other issues, in preparation for the upcoming CITES international conference on trade of endangered species. The service will submit its final U.S. resolutions, decisions and agenda items for the conference by April of next year, according to the Dec. 4 notice.
     The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a multinational agreement enacted in 1973 to ensure that international trade in plants and animals does not contribute to their endangerment or extinction. More than 35,000 species of plants and animals are protected by the CITES agreement, the service said.
     Currently, 180 countries and the European Union implement the treaty, including the United States. Every two to three years, a Conference of Parties (CoP) meets to review and make changes in the implementation of CITES. The seventeenth CoP will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 24 through Oct. 5, 2016.
     “We encourage the public to participate by submitting comments and information in response to this Federal Register notice, contributing to the service’s long history of open and transparent implementation of CITES in the United States,” Bryan Arroyo, the service’s Assistant Director for International Affairs, said. “Together, we can ensure international trade does not threaten the survival of imperiled wild animals and plants.”
     The proposed agenda items included in the notice fall into three recommendation categories: “likely,” “undecided,” and “unlikely.” The service is especially interested in comments and other input regarding the items in the “undecided” category.
     The “undecided” category comprises 22 issues, including trade in wild elephants, ivory, live rhinoceroses, pangolins, sport-hunted trophies, and sharks and rays. Some of the more unusual items that may be considered are the trade in fish bladders (also known as fish maws), popular in China and Hong Kong for supposed health benefits, the trade in synthetic rhino horn that could send a “mixed message” to consumers and create enforcement headaches, and the issuance of travel documents for musical instruments that may contain parts from CITES-listed species. Other matters in the “undecided” category include procedural issues such as secret ballots, reporting requirements and the participation of youth in CITES events.
     Under the “likely” category, the United States intends to discuss its efforts to address wildlife trafficking, including the President’s Executive Order on Wildlife Trafficking, the Wildlife Task Force, and the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.
     Unless “significant additional information is received,” items the U.S. is unlikely to address include trade in elephant specimens, cheetahs, Asian big cats, bears, great apes, species bred in captivity, sandalwood, and freshwater turtles and tortoises, among others. Comments and other input are due by Feb. 2, 2016.

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