From his perch as chairman of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, a Florida Republican is stressing his opposition to the Trump administration ending the ban on African elephant trophies. 

Noting more than 30,000 elephants are killed for their tusks each year, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called out the administration’s decision on Friday
 
“We should not encourage the hunting and slaughter of these magnificent creatures,” Buchanan said. “We don’t get a second chance once a species becomes extinct.”

Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oreg., the co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, also released a join statement. 
 
“African elephants are a threatened species and face extinction in our lifetime,” they said. “As part of the international effort to reverse this trend, we strongly support the ban on imports of elephant ‘trophies’ from Zambia and Zimbabwe. We are deeply disappointed by reports that there are plans to remove this ban, and as co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, we are united in our effort to maintain the existing ban.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) explained to The Hill why the policy, which had been in place since 2014, was changed. 

“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” an FWS spokesman told The Hill. 

Buchanan, who has been honored by the Humane Society, has focused on animal welfare issues in recent years. Last year, he  teamed up with U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-NM,  to urge the Interior Department to end plans to exterminate or sell more than 45,000 wild horses. Buchanan has also been leading the charge on Capitol Hill to stop slaughtering horses for human consumption. 

The Bradenton congressman has also been active in trying to keep manatees covered under the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this year, Buchanan protested the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to downgrade manatees from “endangered” to “threatened.” Buchanan also teamed up with U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.,  bringing out  the “Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act,” a proposal banning the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption. Buchanan was named legislator of the year by the Humane Society of the United States in 2016.

First elected to the U.S. House in 2006, Buchanan serves on both the Budget and the Ways and Means Committees. Buchanan’s name has garnered buzz as a possible U.S. Senate candidate in recent cycles but he’s opted to continue in the House. 

 


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