Government trophy hunting inquiry – will the truth prevail?

Conor O'Gorman

Conor O'Gorman

Conor O’Gorman has worked in a variety of conservation, policy and campaigning roles at BASC over the last 16 years. A zoology graduate with a PhD awarded for grey partridge research, he has over 25 years’ experience in conservation and land management.

We can be cautiously optimistic about the government’s trophy hunting inquiry with Neil Parish MP (Chair of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee) stating that “the proposed new [Animals Abroad] Bill has the potential to make real change to the survival of protected species, but it is crucial that it is sensitive to the reality of conservation overseas.”

This is an important opportunity for the government to consider evidence and views of experts in the field. They will also hear from overseas communities that will suffer from the unintended consequences of any restrictions on the import of hunting trophies into the UK.

Controversy and dubious claims

The various campaigns to ‘ban’ so-called trophy hunting have been marred in controversy and dubious claims.

This inquiry will allow the truth to be heard and that will be a win for the principles of sustainability and the communities and wildlife that benefit from overseas hunting.

The concept of recreational hunting is clearly emotive, but the science is clear. Well-regulated hunting programmes play an important role in delivering benefits for both nature and people.

BASC submitted detailed responses to last year’s consultation and call for evidence on the future of importing and exporting hunting trophies.

The government has yet to report on the outcome of that consultation process and the inquiry will play an important factor in deciding what goes into the Animals Abroad Bill.

What is BASC's position?

BASC’s position is supportive of the sustainable harvest of wildlife in the UK and overseas. 

The import and export of hunting trophies arising from such harvesting should be supported where they are clearly proven to be from a sustainable source. 

The inquiry will review a proposal contained in the government’s action plan on animal welfare “to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals abroad, by bringing forward legislation to ensure UK imports and exports of hunting trophies are not threatening the conservation status of species abroad.”

The inquiry is an opportunity to expose the paradoxes in this proposal. Overseas hunting and the import of trophies from such activities is driving species and habitat recovery. Ill-conceived bans will do the opposite. During the inquiry the EFRA committee members need to hear evidence of all the success stories worldwide.

There are already controls in place on hunting trophy imports and exports based on internationally agreed rules based on very well thought out principles agreed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and implemented through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

It is imperative that the truth prevails during this inquiry. Only then will we finally put to bed the lies and misinformation being spread online by animal rights extremists. 

Principles of sustainability

The principles of sustainability apply as much to recreational shooting in the UK as they do overseas.

If ‘trophy hunting’ overseas is successfully curtailed based on ideology over evidence that will only stiffen the resolve of the antis to ban recreational shooting in the UK with a thousand cuts.

The targeting of the Royal Horticultural Society and English Heritage for deer management activities are cases in point. Similarly was the recent appalling online bullying of Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location presenter Phil Spencer.

Click here for the full BASC press release on the Animals Abroad inquiry.

Let's Learn Moor 2021 in pictures

We need to ensure that everyone who needs to know about this inquiry in the UK is made award of it, and submits evidence by 23 September 2021. 

Click here to find out more and have your say.

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