Gilbert, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- On June 24th 2014 the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs held an Oversight Hearing on “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Plan to Implement a Ban on the Commercial Trade in Elephant Ivory.”
There were two panels of witnesses and the hearing lasted over two hours. The video of the hearing is now available at for viewing.
Unlike previous Subcommittee hearings and Advisory Council meetings that were completely one-sided in advancing the the ban, this hearing was far more even-handed. Representatives of both sides of the debate were heard and many subcommittee members were well-prepared with facts and expressed skepticism about the ban.
Those supporting the ban offered no new information to support the ban. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Associate Director, Robert Dreher, was unable to answer a number of the most pointed questions.
He could not provide any explanation for the reversal of the USFWS' longstanding position on the legal sale of ivory in the U.S. not being a problem and that sale of legal ivory in the U.S. does not have any impact on the poaching problems in Africa.
They also repeated the factually incorrect numbers on poaching used to justify their ban, failing to note that existing efforts have resulted in a marked decrease in poaching in the past few years. While even one elephant poached is too many, it is disingenuous to both use illegitimate facts and not note that substantial progress is being made.
Two witnesses, including the Principal Ecologist of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Hilary Tendaupenyu, spoke about the successful conservation policies under the law before USFWS started unilaterally changing things and how the USFWS new arbitrary bans are already hurting efforts to stop poaching, not helping.
Their bottom line was that this new policy will likely result in increased poaching, not less.
Overall, the hearing seemed to provide more support for those opposed to the USFWS actions than for those who favor it. This is encouraging as we await the expected USFWS final rule announcement that will detail how they intend to enforce the new rules and what accommodations they will make for antique and legal ivory that been in this country for decades. While we expect them to throw some small bones towards special interests who generally are Administration supporters, such as musicians, we still anticipate that the enforcement rules will prove impractical for most ivory owners.
We will continue to fight this irrational, ineffective and injurious ivory ban on behalf of our members and the elephants who need real protection from poachers, not feel good, worthless policy that could kill more elephants.
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