Policy Proposal – The federal government should preserve the ban on the importation and sale of big game animal trophies. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it makes it unlawful to import or export, deliver, receive, carry, transport or ship illegal trade items from big game trophies within interstate or foreign commerce. The Commerce Clause is one of the most powerful clauses of the Constitution, in which Congress has the sole authority to regulate what goes into and out of the United States. This prohibits activities that brings sport-hunted trophy animals into the U.S. as well. However, certain permits are required to authorize said activities that are otherwise illegal. By following permit laws, this will help regulate what type of commerce enters the U.S. This type of commerce includes ivory obtained from the tusks of the African elephant, which is a species that is constantly being protected by a number of wildlife sanctuaries and non-profit organizations. The Department of Fish and Wildlife Service should continue to work to ban those types of activities. The specific policy that will be investigated further is the African elephant's tusks that are used for ivory, and the illegal ivory trade that goes along with it. In the US, the African elephant is protected under the ESA and the rules and regulations that help the conservation of this species is enforced through ESA as well. Under the ESA, an endangered species is considered to be “threatened” or “endangered” when the animal is seen as something that is a conservation priority, and that their population numbers are dwindling slowly. When a species is listed as endangered under the ESA, there are certain things that people can't do that are considered unlawful and that they are prohibited under those regulations as stated in the CFR. The activities that are prohibited include the taking of these big game animal trophies within the borders of the United States or upon high seas. This is how the Commerce Clause comes into effect as well.
Policy Recommendation – Under the ESA, the federal government should continue to ban the importation and sale of big game animal trophies because banning this activity would allow the government to protect and preserve wildlife. This is especially important for wildlife that are endangered or threatened.
Potential Controversy – Big game animal trophies are considered a controversial topic in itself because those are the types of wildlife that the public does not normally see every day. Big game animal trophies include animals such as the African elephant, lions, and giraffes, and we, as humans, should have the moral obligation to protect these big game animals because it would be a shame to see them go extinct due to our own actions.
Policy Issue – The policy issue is that the ban on selling and importation on big game trophies is such a broad and far-reaching policy that not enough is being done to completely protect endangered species and the big game trophies themselves. It would be ideal for all big game animals to not be hunted to begin with, but current policy still states that the harvesting of these species is recommended to deal with population control.
• Hunters – The stakeholders for this issue are the hunters themselves. The hunters are most likely to be affected by this kind of policy because they are the ones that are actually going out and harvesting these game species. Hunters are responsible for upholding this policy and they are the ones that are mostly going to be affected by it.
• Consumers – The consumers are being affected by this policy to ban the trade of big game trophies. This is especially true for the illegal selling and purchasing ivory that is being harvested from African elephants. Consumers are subsequently contributing to the illegal ivory trade because they are the ones that are purchasing the products that contain ivory in them from companies and merchants that sell them.
• Conservationists – Conservationists are particularly the ones interested in the protection of endangered species, such as the African elephant. They are the ones who advocate for sanctuaries and the ones who don't want the elephant numbers to dwindle in the wild.
• Government Agencies – Agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service have control over regulations such as the ESA, are responsible for the implementation and guidance of these regulations. Without them, there wouldn't be any legal action to take place if an incident were to occur that involves the illegal taking of the African elephant's tusks for selling and marketing ivory.
Current Policy – The Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Lacey Act (passed in 1990) make it possible so that it would be unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase any wildlife or plants that are considered taken, by the ESA's definition. These unlawful acts would interfere with the Commerce Clause, which is one of the most powerful clauses in the United States Constitution. The Lacey Act became the first federal law that protects wildlife and actually enforces legal action if someone were to get caught with the importation of plants and animals. The Lacy Act is currently working to regulate the interstate commerce of any species that are protected by international or domestic law, which falls under the ESA. According to the Federal Register (FR), there is a rule that addresses the Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revision of the Section 4(d) Rule for The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana), which was the final rule for this action. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were working to revise the rule for the African elephant specifically, because they wanted to work to increase the protection of the species in response to the unfortunate increase of poaching and the illegal trade going into the United States. The Endangered Species act is working to provide such ruling in order to continue to provide the conservation of these species. Since July 29th, 2015, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service reevaluated the ruling and worked hard to provide adequate protection for African elephants. This ruling would most likely be the solution to poaching elephants in Africa, and that they would hope that the U.S. ivory market is not one of the main contenders for the poaching and killing of elephants. This action is currently upheld by parties that took a part in the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES) in March of 2013. Around July of 2013, this was deemed an important issue that was also being worked on for combating wildlife trafficking and the priorities that were being addressed were even issued by President Obama in early 2014.
Policy Proposal and Analysis – The proposal and analysis of this policy issue is that the federal government should continue to ban the importation and sale of big game trophies. The big game trophy that was focused on is the importation and sale of ivory from the African elephant tusks. The federal government is responsible for what comes in and out of the US, which directly interferes with the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Big game trophies, especially when they are listed as “endangered” or “threatened”, should be protected and not interfered with for the sake of conservation. The advantages of this are that there is a solid regulation that states that the importation and sale of ivory is illegal and if it is broken, then there will be serious legal consequences for that action. The disadvantages of this policy are that it's tricky to even regulate illegal poaching and hunting because hunters are still going to go behind the law and harvest the elephants illegally. It is difficult for the policy to encompass such a large scale and have control over all of the species that are considered big game trophies and endangered species. Upon review of the Federal Register in which that policy is placed, it is noted that there are many people in the US who feel strongly about the conservation of elephants and the illegal elephant ivory trade. There is a huge concern for the elephant populations in Africa and many people are advocating for the extreme protection of these species, in which they are relying on the federal government to take action.
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