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Suit Seeks Public Review of Animal Pelt Exports

May 4, 2016
Bethany Cotton (503) 327-4923 bcotton@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Wildlife   Bobcat
#DefendCarnivores, #EndTheWarOnWildlife
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Suit Seeks Public Review of Animal Pelt Exports

Endangered Species Treaty Misused to Facilitate Mass Fur Export
Contact: Bethany Cotton (503) 327-4923 bcotton@wildearthguardians.org

Additional Contact:

Matthew Bishop,Western Environmental Law Center, 406-324-8011, bishop@westernlaw.org

MISSOULA, MT. — Yesterday, conservation groups filed suit torequire open, public review of the impacts of the U.S. Fish and WildlifeService’s (Service’s) export program that facilitates international trade inbobcat and gray wolf pelts, creates more incentive for trapping, and harms wolves,lynx, and other native wildlife.

The U.S. is a party to the Convention on International Tradein Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the international treatythat outlawed the unregulated ivory trade. Under CITES, the Service regulatesthe export of pelts and other animal parts from wolves, bobcats, and other “furbearers’’from the U.S. This is achieved through a permit and tagging system inconjunction with states and individual trappers. These pelts and parts are usedin places like Russia and China for products such as fur coats, which canrequire 50 bobcat pelts each.

In 2014 alone, the Service issued “CITES export tags” allowingthe export of 59,000bobcat pelts from the U.S. Recently, the Service also gave the state ofMontana permission to tag gray wolf pelts for export. The Service has neverpublicly evaluated the effects of this export program on native wildlife. Norhas it looked at the enormous “bycatch” of other, non-target animals typically caughtin traps and snares.

“The removal of nearly 60,000 bobcats from U.S. soil eachyear to fuel the international fur market warrants serious analysis, not zeroanalysis.” said Western Environmental Law Center Attorney Matthew Bishop. “Theagency has mismanaged the domestic side of what is otherwise an importanttreaty.”

The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requiresall federal agencies to publicly evaluate the environmental impacts ofactivities such at the CITES furbearer export program. To date, however, theService has yet to evaluate any aspect of its export program under NEPA.

“The public is largely unaware that not only is cruelwildlife trapping still happening, it is increasing in many western statesdriven by the international fur market,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife programdirector for WildEarth Guardians. “The idea that trapping tens of thousands ofnative animals has no impact on our environment is preposterous.”

A copy of the complaint is available here.

Other Contact
Matthew Bishop, Western Environmental Law Center, 406-324-8011, bishop@westernlaw.org