Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.
July 31: “Late yesterday afternoon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement was contacted by a representative of Dr. Walter Palmer. The Service's investigation is ongoing and appreciates that Dr. Palmer's representative voluntarily reached out to the Service,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
July 30: "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of 'Cecil the lion.' That investigation will take us wherever the facts lead. At this point in time, however, multiple efforts to contact Dr. Walter Palmer have been unsuccessful. We ask that Dr. Palmer or his representative contact us immediately," Edward Grace, Deputy Chief of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
July 29: "The Service is deeply concerned about the recent killing of Cecil the lion. We are currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested. It is up to all of us - not just the people of Africa - to ensure that healthy, wild populations of animals continue to roam the savanna for generations to come,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
|We proposed listing the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Credit: Ken Stansell/USFWS|
For centuries, the African lion has been the emblem of royalty – and a universal symbol of strength, nobility and power. But as powerful as lions may be, evidence shows that they need our help to survive.
The lion is part of our heritage as global citizens. Ensuring that healthy populations continue to roam the savannah is up to all of us – not just the people of Africa. That’s why today we proposed to protect the lion under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. (RELATED: What We Do for the African Lion)
Lions are still found across a large range in Africa. Although populations in protected areas of eastern and southern Africa have been relatively stable over the last three decades, lions elsewhere are suffering alarming declines.
That’s because the human population of sub-Saharan Africa is exploding – pushing settlements, grazing and agriculture into lion habitat. Even protected areas haven’t been immune. Humans are also killing the wild prey that supports lions in increasing volumes, consuming these animals and selling them as bushmeat. Faced with declining habitat and prey, desperate lions are increasingly targeting livestock and people – resulting in retaliatory killing of lions.
The human population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to more than double by 2050 – making a bad situation worse. Unless aggressive measures are taken to protect lions, their prey and habitat, the lion will likely face the threat of extinction within that time frame.
|What We Do for the African Lion|
Endangered Species Act protection will allow the United States to strengthen enforcement and monitoring of imports and international trade. We’ll also be able to provide additional law enforcement and on-the-ground conservation support, in partnership with African countries and partner organizations.
We can’t succeed in sustaining lions without working with the people who share the landscape with it – and recognizing their need to feed themselves and their families. We need to work with African nations and conservation organizations to engage and empower local communities to view lions as an asset, not a liability.
For that reason, we’re also proposing an accompanying special rule that would require a permit for the import of any sport-hunted lion trophy into the country.
Lions are not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting. In fact, evidence shows that scientifically sound conservation programs that include limited, well-managed sport hunting can and do contribute to the long-term survival of the species.
U.S. hunters – the vast majority of who strongly support sustainable game management – make up a disproportionately large share of foreign hunters who book trophy hunts in Africa.
That gives us a powerful tool to support countries managing their lion populations in a sustainable manner – and a strong incentive for other nations to strengthen their management programs.
Under this special rule, we cannot and will not allow trophies into the United States from any nation whose lion conservation program fails to meet key criteria for transparency, scientific management and effectiveness.
Permits would be granted if, and only if, the trophies were taken as part of a scientific management program that provides proven benefits to the overall lion population and local communities.
We know that many people around the world care about lions, and we have a public comment period open to allow the public, partners and interested stakeholders to comment and submit additional information that will help us make the best final decision. Please visit regulations.gov to submit your comments.
In the meantime, we will continue collaborative efforts on multiple levels to protect and restore African lion populations across their range.
NOTE: Comments on this blog are not official comments to the proposed rule to list the African lion as threatened. The African lion public comment period is officially open for 90 days, through January 27, 2015. To have your comments included in the official record, please go to regulations.gov Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2012-0025 and follow the instructions. More information can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/african_lion.html.