A bill introduced by State Sen. Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, to protect African species passed the Senate’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday afternoon.
S.B. 1487, the Iconic African Species Protection Act, would make California to prohibit the possession of the body parts of eleven endangered species, including lions, elephants, rhinoceroses and giraffes, that have been heavily targeted by trophy hunters and animal traffickers. The bill is very opposed by the National Rifle Association and follows a decision earlier this year by the Trump administration to allow importation of lion and elephant trophies, reversing an earlier ban.
“The choice is pretty simple. Where do you think these animals belong? Is it out in the wild, or is it above your mantle?” Stern said. “There is actually more money for poor African nations and for conservation with these iconic species in the wild.”
“Trophy hunting benefits no one. Study after study reveals that the purported economic benefits to communities, promised job creation, and alleged conservation benefits from trophy hunting never materialize,” renowned scientist Jane Goodall wrote in a letter sent to Senator Stern in support of the bill. “In passing the Iconic African Species Protection Act, California will be setting an example that can be championed in state legislatures across the country.”
In a letter of support for the bill, the Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote, “At a time of rapid and alarming biodiversity loss, it is wholly inappropriate to support the killing of threatened species for entertainment.”
Before the vote, the author, sponsor and other supporters of the bill met with members of the news media to make statements and answer questions in the state Capitol.
Brendan Cummings, Conservation Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, stated, “This bill is not just symbolically important but one that will ultimately have meaningful impact on the ground, while helping ensure that Californians are no longer complicit in driving the extinction of some of the most imperiled and iconic species on the planet.”
The bill will now move on to the Senate Floor, where it will be voted on later this spring.