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Trophy Hunter Gets US Permit to Import Body of Rare Rhino

Michigan hunter gets dispensation in what Humane Society calls 'pay-to-slay scheme'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 7, 2019 5:30 AM CDT
In this June 6, 1997, file photo, Spike, a rare black rhino, is shown at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland.   (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, Scott Shaw)

(Newser) – The Trump administration says it will issue a permit to a Michigan trophy hunter to import the skin, skull, and horns from a rare black rhinoceros he shot in Africa. Documents show Chris D. Peyerk of Shelby Township, Mich., applied last year for the permit required by the Fish and Wildlife Service to import animals protected under the Endangered Species Act, per the AP. Peyerk paid $400,000 to an anti-poaching program to receive permission to hunt the male rhino bull inside a Namibian national park in May 2018. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists black rhinos as a critically endangered species, with about 5,500 remaining in the wild. Nearly half of those are in Namibia, which is allowed under international convention to permit five male rhinos a year to be legally killed by hunters.

The subspecies Peyerk listed on his application, the south-western black rhinoceros, is listed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN, meaning it's at less threat of extinction than the rest of the species as a whole. For decades, federal regulators issued no import permits for black rhinos, but as populations rebounded in Africa, the Obama administration issued three starting in 2013; the Trump administration has issued another two. "We urge our federal government to end this pay-to-slay scheme that delivers critically endangered rhino trophies to wealthy Americans while dealing a devastating blow to rhino conservation," said Kitty Block, head of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. A Fish and Wildlife Service rep pushes back: "Legal, well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species." (Read more hunting stories.)

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