Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

U.S. House Approves Buchanan Measure to Stop the Slaughter of Endangered Lions & Elephants

Jun 21, 2019
Press Release
Lions Face Extinction As Habitat & Prey Shrink. Buchanan is Co-Chair of Animal Protection Caucus

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House Thursday approved Rep. Vern Buchanan’s amendment to protect endangered African lions and elephants by banning the importation of their dead carcasses into the United States to be mounted as trophies. Buchanan’s amendment passed the House by a vote of 239 to 192.  

“These magnificent creatures are on the verge of extinction,” said Buchanan, a leader in Congress on protecting endangered species. “The last thing we should be doing is making it easy to slaughter these animals and bring their stuffed heads back into the U.S. as “trophies. Once a species is extinct it’s gone forever.”

Buchanan’s measure prohibits the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from issuing importation permits from Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania – three countries that encourage trophy hunting. His amendment follows a 2017 Interior Department decision to allow the importation.

“The House took an important step towards banning the import of elephant and lion trophies,” Buchanan continued. “The taxpayers should not have to pay a single dollar to enable this activity. Protecting animals at home and abroad is an overwhelmingly bipartisan cause.”

Buchanan submitted his amendment to the latest sweeping government funding bill. Final passage is expected next week.

Over 30,000 elephants are slaughtered for their tusks every year – one every 18 minutes.

A 2015 Marist Poll showed that more than 85% of Americans disapprove of big game hunting.

In 2017, Buchanan urged President Trump to reject the Interior secretary’s decision to lift a ban on allowing African lion trophies to be brought into the United States.

Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, applauded Buchanan’s leadership on the issue: “Americans invest more tourism dollars in wildlife viewing safaris in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania than in the trophy hunting of lions and elephants. These iconic species are being threatened by continued poaching, habitat loss, and other human-caused mortalities. Trophy hunting exacerbates these threats, pushing these magnificent animals closer to extinction. That’s why we applaud Rep. Buchanan for championing a more humane future through an amendment to restrict the import of lion and elephant trophies from these countries. As the United States is the world’s largest importer of animal trophies, our efforts to alleviate the additional pressure trophy hunting puts on these species is critical.”

Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, stated, “Species such as African elephants and lions face grave threats to their survival and there is no credible scientific evidence that legal hunting enhances their conservation. The revenue generated by trophy hunts often fails to provide any meaningful income to impoverished locals. Rather, these hunts usually funnel money into the hands of a select few without improving protections for hunted wildlife populations. No species that faces extinction should be further victimized by someone looking to hang a head on a wall.”

Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA, stated, “The amendment led by Congressman Buchanan is a sharp and necessary rebuke to these actions. Born Free USA is proud to support this amendment that seeks to protect some of our most beloved species against those who feel compelled to kill them for sport.”  

Buchanan, co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, received the “Legislative Leader” award from the Humane Society for his leadership and votes in 2018. Some of the votes and initiatives cited by the group included legislation to stop the slaughter of American horses for human consumption, ban cosmetic testing on animals and protect endangered species in Florida and across the globe. The Congressman is also a past recipient of the group’s coveted “Legislator of the Year” Award, the only Floridian ever to win the honor.

In April, Buchanan’s Rescuing Animals With Rewards Act (RAWR Act) was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill allows the State Department to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of wildlife traffickers around the globe. The RAWR would explicitly add wildlife trafficking to the list of criminal activities the State Department can target with financial rewards for whistleblowers.

Also in April, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that it would list the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) following a push from Buchanan and Kathy Castor (D-FL). The mammal is one of the most endangered marine mammals on the planet and perilously close to extinction.

He recently opposed the Interior Department’s announcement that it would move to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species protection. His strong record of defending animals also includes opposing weaker protections for the Florida manatee and panther, as well as urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restore a database of animal cruelty information that the department removed suddenly and without notice.