NTA "draft" on comments for Importation

Submitted by NTAHQ on 10/12/01. ( Ntahq@aol.com ) 152.163.188.194

The following is a "draft" of the Comments we are filing on the ban of European and Japanese trophies. We are filing it tomorrow, in quadruplicate by Federal Express because Monday, the 15th, is the deadline. After weeks of review of this complex matter and conferences with the APHIS, we have carefully decided to address trophies as only having been included unintentionally. We have reason to believe the APHIS will treat trophies as not being intended to be under the rule.

NOTE: If you have not sent in your comment please do so by Federal Express in order that it can be received by Monday, October 15th.

October 11, 2001

DRAFT

Docket No. 00-121-1

Regulatory Analysis and Development,
PPD, APHIS,
Suite 3C03, 4700 River Road
Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

Re: Joint Comment on Docket No. 00-121-1,66FR42595

Rule on importation prohibitions due to BSE

Dear Sir:

This is a comment opposing the application of the interim rule and any permanent rule to the import of animal parts for taxidermy as recreational hunting trophies. The comment is on behalf of Conservation Force, a nonprofit foundation representing itself, its supporters and 64 sportsmens' wildlife conservation organizations. This joint comment is also on behalf of Dallas Safari Club, Dallas Ecological Foundation, Houston Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida and the Louisiana Chapter of Safari Club international, which are non-profit recreational sportsmens' wildlife conservation organizations. This is also a comment on behalf of the National Taxidermists Association (NTA) and its affiliated organizations. The NTA represents the industry of 78,000 taxidermists in America that taxidermy trophies for the personal use of America's sportsmen and sportswomen including hunters that tourist hunt in Europe and Japan.

The focus of our concern is the import of game animal parts imported for the intended purpose of being taxidermied and mounted as recreational hunting trophies by qualified U. S. taxidermist. We understand from some quarters of the APHIS that the interim rule was not intended to prohibit the import of parts of game animals being imported for the personal use of recreational hunters and fishermen as trophies. The rule makes no specific mention of game animal parts imported for such purposes. This belief is fortified by the fact that no cost-benefit economic analysis whatsoever required by Executive Order 12866 and the Regulatory Flexibility Act was made for the impact of a prohibition against the import of game animal parts taken in European tourist recreational hunts for the purpose of taxidermy. Our interpretation is further supported by the APHIS Revised Policy for Handling Bones, Antlers, and Skulls resulting from "hunting expeditions" issued on October 2, 2001, attached. Nevertheless some game animal parts being imported to be taxidermied for the recreational hunters have been denied entry. We fully support that exemption of game animal trophy parts being imported from hunting trips abroad for the purpose of being taxidermied within the USA. That clarification should be made to specifically include an exemption of the skins of those game animals as well as and in addition to the skulls, head, antlers and horns. Such a clarification urgently needs to be made now rather than waiting until a final rule.

Ambiguity

The rule is ambiguously too broad as written. It seems to include game animals, wild birds and even fish. It should explicitly exclude such parts, particularly those game animal parts that have been taken in recreational hunts by tourist and imported not as feed/meal, but imported for the purpose of being taxidermied for the personal use of the hunter as a trophy. We urge you to further clarify the interim rule for hunting parts of game animals to exclude such parts without delay and to embody the exception as an exemption or exclusion in the final rule.

Risk Analysis

The rule should not cover game animal parts taken by sporthunters that are imported to be taxidermied as mounted trophies. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a bovine/cattle/beef disease, not a game animal disease. Any causative connection is extremely remote, speculative and unconfirmed. "Currently, cattle remain the only known food animal species with disease caused by the BSE agent", according to the CDC National Center for Infectious Disease release of January 29, 2001. Though BSE has existed in one or more European countries since the middle 1980s it has never been found in game animals. (Please see the attached letters from CIC and IGF to this effect). Any assumption that BSE exists in game animals lacks scientific validity. In fact, the assumption in the rule that the United States is free of BSE has less basis than any underlying hypothesis that the bovine disease BSE will be transmitted in non-feed/meal wild game parts imported only for taxidermy mounting for private personal display.

The spread of BSE is thought to be through bovine ruminant material in meal, i.e., feeding bovine protein to ruminants. Game animal parts (skull, horns, antlers and skin) being imported for taxidermy and display are not likely to end up as feed or meal for bovines. They are valued too highly as trophies for any other use. It can cost sportsmen thousands of dollars just to ship them home. Moreover there is no evidence or confirmation that BSE spreads horizontally from cattle to other species much less the converse that it is transmitted from game animals to cattle. We understand that the rule was only intended to be for animal parts intended to be used or likely to be used as food/meal/feed for bovine consumption. The game animal parts in issue are not being imported for intra-species feeding or cannibalism nor is there such a risk. There is no food borne causal linkup with game animals. The inclusion of game animal parts would not be scientifically sound in a comprehensive risk analysis. In fact the existing interim rule makes no analysis at all much less a risk analysis regarding game animal imports for taxidermy and its relationship to BSE. The inclusion of tourist hunted game animals, if intended, is arbitrary, capricious and irrational.

Wildlife Conservation Impact

Tourist hunting is a significant contributor to the wildlife conservation base. The auctioning and sale of hunts abroad fund many nonprofit conservation organizations in the U. S. such as Dallas Safari Club, Dallas Ecological Foundation, Houston Safari Club, the African Safari Club of Florida and hundreds of others. Such hunts are donated to them and the sale of these hunts in turn is the primary income of those organizations. Those funds are expended on wildlife and habitat programs and projects in the USA as well as abroad. A ban on import of game animal parts would greatly compromise the entire safari industry and all wildlife conservation dependent upon the hunting. A prohibition against the import of trophies from Europe is also a disincentive against that hunting and the marketing of those recreational hunts. American hunters generally will not tourist hunt and certainly will not pay as much in license fees and hunting charges to hunt if they can not bring their trophies home. Moreover American hunters have an ethic against waste of a trophy game animal. The value of these animals is their trophy quality and the hunt is memorialized by bringing the trophy parts home for taxidermy and permanent display. Moreover, only U. S. quality taxidermy can be justified considering the price and costs of European tourist hunts today.

Tourist hunting is also a significant incentive for wildlife conservation in Europe. It provides the socio-economic basis for the protection and propagation of game animals and their habitat by private land holders and public agencies. The application of this rule to tourist hunting game animal parts would directly compromise wildlife conservation in the European countries involved as well as those countries' conservation infrastructures. The revenue from such hunting is the motive, ways and means of wildlife and bio-diversity support.

Economic Impact

There are 78,000 taxidermist in the USA. Many would be affected if the rule is applied to tourist hunting animal parts. Some will be put out of business. If each of the 78,000 taxidermist averaged only $1,000.00 per trophy work per year, the direct economic loss to them could be 78 million dollars (1K x 78K). The real amount would be much higher. It will also economically impact suppliers, fur dressers, form makers and all related businesses.

Conclusion

We respectfully ask that tourist hunting trophies not be included in the ban. If we can be of any help in rewording the interim or final rule because of our unique expertise, then please feel free to call upon our help. We look forward to working with you on this important matter. Thank you for giving this joint comment every consideration.

Sincerely,
John J. Jackson, III
Chairman Conservation Force

Best regards,
John J. Jackson, III

John J. Jackson, III, Chairman, Conservation Force, One Lakeway Center, 3900 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 1045, Metairie, LA 70002-1746, (504) 837-1233, (Fax: 504-837-1145), jjw-no@att.net, www.conservationforce.org

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