California Governor Vetoes Big 5 Hunting Restrictions

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On Sept. 30, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have banned the import of most of Africa’s iconic Big 5 species, citing that the bill was unenforceable. The bill had passed with strong support in both of California’s legislative chambers. On Aug. 31, Senate Bill 1487, sponsored by Sen. Henry I. Stern (D- Canoga Park), passed the Assembly by a vote of 55 to 20. The bill had previously passed the California Senate on May 30 27-7. In his veto message, Governor Brown stated, “…this bill, if enacted, would be unenforceable.”

Also known as the Iconic African Species Protection Act, SB 1487 would have banned the importation of any part of elephants, lions, leopards and black or white rhinos unless they are being used for educational or scientific purposes. Anyone in violation of the act could have faced a fine of $5,000 to $40,000. Cape Buffaloes were not affected by SB 1487.

“We are glad to see that Governor Brown has vetoed this legislation, which would have actually hurt the wildlife it purports to protect,” said Luke Houghton associate director of state services. “This common-sense decision defers to the expertise of wildlife experts who know that hunting benefits these species and the villages that depend on hunter dollars.”

Currently, American hunters may hunt Africa’s Big 5 as long as they obtain the proper import permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and be legally permitted to hunt those species in the range countries. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only issues import permits for hunts that occur in countries that maintain sound conservation plans that help improve threatened and endangered wildlife. Dollars spent by American hunters fund anti-poaching operations and provide much needed funds to villages in range countries.

California would have been the third state to place a ban on the importation of Big 5 species had SB 1487 been signed into law. The New Jersey legislature enacted a ban on all species of the Big 5 in 2016. Washington State voters approved a ballot initiative in 2015 that banned the trade of ivory and parts of some animals, which include trophies from elephants, leopards, lions, rhinos, sharks and other animals.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.