Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

U.S. House Today Passed Buchanan Protections for Endangered Lions & Elephants

Jun 25, 2019
Press Release
Lions Face Extinction As Habitat & Prey Shrink. Buchanan is Co-Chair of Animal Protection Caucus

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House Tuesday passed Rep. Vern Buchanan’s measure to protect endangered African lions and elephants by banning the importation of their dead carcasses into the United States to be mounted as trophies.

“These beautiful animals are on the verge of extinction,” said Buchanan, a leader in Congress on protecting endangered species. “The last thing we should be doing is encouraging the slaughter of these incredible creatures. 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.

“We are one step closer towards banning the import of elephant and lion trophies,” Buchanan continued. “American taxpayers should not have to pay a dime to enable this activity. Protecting animals in America and abroad is an overwhelmingly bipartisan issue.”

The amendment, which was adopted last week, received final approval today and now heads to the U.S. Senate as a part of a larger government funding package.

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.

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.