Former USFWS Special Agent Sam Jojola calls out Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop and Zinke’s fake “International Wildlife Conservation Council”

Killer of Cecil the Lion, Minneapolis dentist & big game hunter, Walter Palmer (left) (photo: dailystar.co.uk)


by Sam Jojola, Retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agent

The more things change, the more they stay the same

On November 8, 2017, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, announced the creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council.  The devil is in the details and what will follow in days, weeks and months to come will shape this Council and their priorities. Since the Council involves aspects of conservation, hunting and law enforcement, I wonder if Council heads will be selected from recognized leading experts in those three areas of focus.  I am particularly concerned how the Council will deal with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) foreign listed species and import permits that are mentioned in this press release: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-zinke-announces-creation-international-wildlife-conservation-council

I believe the creation of this Council comes at a very bad time given the recent news of Zimbabwe’s regime shakeup and the most recent proposal for the U.S. to lift the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zambia and Zimbabwe.  I hope now that President Trump has moved to keep the ban in place, that he and Secretary Zinke will consider keeping the ban given the current developing instability of Zimbabwe over the past several days: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/trump-puts-decision-allow-elephant-hunting-trophy-imports-hold-022152590.html

Five illegal Leopard trophies entering U.S. in 2008 detail Zimbabwe’s corruption

In 2008, sources from outside the U.S. contacted me and provided specific details about a shipment of leopard trophies entering the U.S. with fraudulent CITES permits from Zimbabwe.  I passed on my initial investigation to USFWS Special Agents in Colorado who seized the leopard trophies and completed the investigation after trophy hunters and a foreign guide were prosecuted: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/south-dakota-man-sentenced-smuggling-big-game-leopard-hide-united-states

There are a number of articles on the Internet that detail how widespread illegal hunting has been in Zimbabwe over the years. There are disturbing estimates of large numbers of rhinos that have been killed for years in Zimbabwe.

Google “illegal trophy hunting in Zimbabwe”

Readers will be shocked at the details of pages with disturbing accounts, estimates and reports that reflect the widespread killing of staggering numbers of elephants and rhinos over the years.

Knowing history to avoid repeating the same mistakes

To really grasp what is happening now with wildlife resources across the globe and how they are managed (and mismanaged, due to poor regulations, corruption, greed, etc.), it is very important to examine bad decisions of the past to insure these decisions are not repeated now and in the future.  One of the key documents everyone should read is from an October, 1996 posting on the website from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that consists of 29 pages, titled “Tarnished Trophies.”

Read page 9 of this report that is titled “Fish and Wildlife Safari Service.”  This “white paper” documents corruption of a high level department of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at that time with respect to promoting trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species: https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/whitepapers/1996_tarnished_trophies.pdf

As one of my colleagues who is a renowned former wildlife research biologist put it simply, “humanity’s DNA is seriously flawed” and we as a species can many times make the wrong decisions, particularly when managing wildlife resources now and in the future for generations.

My comments on the creation of an International Wildlife Conservation Council

On November 15, 2017, I submitted my comments to the USFWS via e-mail regarding the proposed creation of an International Wildlife Conservation Council:

  1. The proposal is a monumental waste of money due to Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) who has helped push five (5) bills from the Natural Resources Committee that would conceivably dismantle the Endangered Species Act over a period of time. The ESA plays a major part of wildlife conservation. It would make more sense to form a council to fight these destructive proposals that would destroy the ESA or have the Secretary of Interior request Rep. Rob Bishop to resign. If Rep. Rob Bishop has his way to “invalidate” the ESA, imagine trying to protect wildlife and regulate hunting. Dismantling the ESA in any form or fashion is destroying large fragile ecosystems at the expense of wildlife resources for future generations.
  2. The International Wildlife Conservation Council should actually be renamed to accurately portray the proposed actions. It should be re-named “The International Wildlife Conservation, Hunting and Law Enforcement Council” which is more appropriate.
  3. One of the “duties of the Council” will be to “Recommend removal of barriers to the importation of the United States of legally hunted wildlife”. The recent lifting of the ban this month to allow trophy hunters who legally killed elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2016 and 2017 can now import those trophy elephants into the U.S. U.S. trophy hunters who legally hunt elephants in those countries in 2018 can apply for a USFWS permit and import their trophies here. This proves the implementation of this Council is without merit and unnecessary and barriers are obviously already removed without the Council in place.
  4. A Council formed to help African nations re-write wildlife laws in their respective countries would be a better proposal. Zimbabwe is a notoriously corrupt nation reportedly losing upwards of 1 billion dollars annually to corruption. Why should the U.S. allow U.S. trophy hunters to kill any wildlife in that country and allow their importation here? We are rewarding a corrupt regime. The U.S. should instead provide legal expertise and offer to help Zimbabwe and other countries re-write their wildlife laws that seal loopholes that contributed to the Cecil the Lion incident.
  5. There are already plenty of loopholes in the ESA across the board. Why constrict Special Agents and Wildlife Inspectors from doing their job to enforce regulations with additional bureaucracy?

Task Force concept needed to address transnational wildlife criminal syndicates

The U.S. should instead focus on addressing the exponential growth of the global illegal wildlife trade by improving U.S. law enforcement strategies through the formation of a task force comprised of USFWS, the FBI, IRS, ICE, DSS (State Department), the CIA, NSA, and a U.S. Special Operations group to fully address the transnational wildlife criminal syndicates that are dismantling ecosystems across the planet.


In 2008, Walter Palmer pleaded guilty to making false statement to the Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he shot outside authorized hunting zones in Wisconsin.  He tried to have release of the incriminating photograph stopped.

7 replies »

  1. Carriers lighten their load with a hunting-trophy ban
    South Africa Airways executes an untimely U-turn on carrying hunted-animal remains in its holds

    American embargos are important because its citizens make up by far the largest contingent of hunters. But their acquiescence is just part of a larger movement in the airline industry. According to campaign websites, the following carriers have banned hunting trophies over recent months: Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic Airways. All should be commended. Others may have done so and failed to publicise it, or may do so in the coming days.

    The pro-hunting lobby maintains that it supports African economies and protects endangered species by creating a market for their lives. Hunting “places a value on wildlife and wild areas, creating a direct incentive to purchase, own, protect and conserve this precious resource,” argues the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa, which played an active role in convincing SAA to overturn its ban. But, for Gulliver, the economic and market-based arguments are an irrelevance.
    So what if hunting is economically rational? Slavery is economically rational too, that doesn’t make it morally defensible.


  2. Hunting is Not and never has Conservation. Hunting is only to serve highdollar interests who want to kill something legally without winding up in jail like say if they murdered humans. I’ve said All along I would stay out of the Hunters way of deer hunting etc if they left Endagered species and horse slaughter off their agendas. But Zinke’s cutting it all too close. Closing down hunting State by State isn’t that difficult. THE hunters all Zinke apparently understood this as hunters find their land for hunting shrinking. Zinke needs to wake up and stop his stupidity before he finds himself with laws allowing hunting in places you will legally never have access to again. It’s All in who ya know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Honestly, the old “kill animals to save them” really doesn’t ring true! Well, unless you are someone who gets their kicks from killing animals! Obviously, from the “decorations” in Zinke’s office – hes one of them.


  4. Killing of 280 South African animals to raise more than US$1 million for American hunting group’s anti-wildlife agenda

    All auction profits, including from the South Africa-based trophy hunts, will go toward funding SCI, one of the world’s largest trophy hunting advocacy groups. This annual auction raises substantial funds for SCI (generating US$14.4 million in 2015), which it uses in its efforts to actively lobby against measures that would increase protection for threatened species. For example, earlier this year SCI filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in defense of aerial hunting and other inhumane predator-killing practices on refuges in Alaska.

    SCI also financially supports U.S. political action committees (super PACs) like the Hunter Defense Fund which works to elect pro-trophy hunting politicians. According to SCI, 94 percent of candidates they supported won in the 2014 U.S. Congressional election and 147 pro-hunting candidates have been elected to Congress.

    Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist for HSI said: “We are worried that with the new U.S. administration, pro-trophy hunting advocacy groups like Safari Club International will have undue negative influence on key wildlife conservation issues. It’s even worse to think that the lost lives of South African mammals are helping finance this agenda far across the globe.

    “It’s time to bust the myth that killing for kicks helps conservation in any significant way at all; it simply doesn’t. And by allowing U.S. hunters to kill South Africa’s iconic species, South Africa is boosting the coffers of a powerful U.S. organization that instead threatens global wildlife. The South African public should be seriously concerned.”


  5. In 2015, Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter. The reality is, there are many more who have met similar fates.

    Enter Safari Club International’s annual Las Vegas convention, where exotic animal hunts are sold and auctioned off to the highest bidder.



    SCI is the only pro-hunting organization with an office in Washington, D.C., that has full time policy experts, in-house legal counsel, and certified wildlife biologists on staff dedicated to the protection of hunting for SCI members and hunters everywhere.

    SCI monitors, evaluates, and lobbies on federal legislation impacting hunting, hunters, and wildlife conservation. SCI evaluates hunting opportunities, access, recruitment, and retention. One of the ways to protect hunting freedoms is to keep on top of the legislation in Congress. Building relationships between Congressional leaders and sportsmen as well as staying current on the issues ensures that hunting interests are at the forefront when important bills come up.

    SCI Attends Wild Horse and Burro Summit: Experts Warn of Continuing Crisis
    Sep 05, 2017

    On August 22-24, SCI Litigation Counsel Doug Burdin attended an invitation-only summit on the continuing crisis involving the management of wild horses and burros (referred to below as “horses”) on federal lands in the West. The crisis will affect anyone who hunts, recreates on, or otherwise uses, federal lands containing wild horses or nearby areas.

    The dominant message at the recent Wild Horse and Burro Summit was that the West is experiencing a crisis that is only going to get worse without immediate action. Congress needs to reinstate the management methods provided for in the Wild Horses Act, including humane euthanasia, which Congress has forbidden in appropriation riders over the past 20 years. SCI will be monitoring upcoming legislation that addresses the wild horse crisis and will keep you informed. For more information on this issue, check out the website of the National Wild Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition, of which SCI is a member.


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