U.S. Will List African Lion and Will Require Permits for Trophy Importation
On December 21, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a final rule to list African lions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The rule, which will be published in the Federal Register on December 23, will list African lions as two separate subspecies – Panthera leo leo and Panthera leo melanochaita.
In October 2014, the FWS published a proposed rule to list all African lions as threatened. The FWS has since changed its mind about the listing status of the lion. Under the final rule, Panthera leo leo, found in western and central Africa, will be listed as endangered and Panthera leo melanochaita, found in eastern and southern Africa, will be listed as threatened.
Together with the listing rule, the FWS will issue a special “4(d) rule” that will require ESA permits for the importation of threatened lions harvested from eastern and southern Africa. It is not entirely clear yet how the FWS will issue these permits or make the required determination that hunting and subsequent importation enhances the survival of the species.
In conjunction with the listing, the Director of the FWS, Dan Ashe, has issued Director’s Order 212 which instructs all FWS employees to deny permits to individuals who have previously been convicted of violating wildlife laws.
Safari Club is still in the process of reviewing the 230-page listing rule and will provide further information and insights when available. The FWS’s announcement and additional information can be found here.