Washington, D.C. April 10, 2019 – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today introduced the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act, a bill that restricts the importation of African lion trophies and other sport-hunted species that have been proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The bill is titled after Cecil, an African lion lured out of protected territory and killed in an illegal hunt by American dentist Walter Palmer in Zimbabwe in 2015.

The bill:

  • Amends the ESA to treat species proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered as though they have already been listed for the purposes of trophy hunting import licensing, thereby prohibiting unpermitted take or trade of species proposed to be listed. Strengthening the ESA in this way would prevent the rush to take animal trophies before a listing is finalized, such as the one that happened when polar bears were proposed to be listed as threatened in 2008.
  • Requires that any wildlife imports to the U.S. enhance the conservation of the species. The killing of Cecil the Lion and the Trump administration’s suspension of a ban on elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Tanzania have raised serious concerns about the accountability and effectiveness of trophy hunting programs that claim to have conservation benefits.
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office to determine whether there is any evidence that trophy hunting in foreign countries contributes to wildlife conservation, and recommend reforms for the industry.
  • Terminates the International Wildlife Conservation Council, a Trump administration-created forum for the promotion of international trophy hunting.

The ESA requires that proposed listings be finalized or withdrawn no later than one year after the proposal is made, with a six-month extension possible in the case of scientific uncertainty. The CECIL Act offers an additional 12 to 18 months of protection for vulnerable species that have not yet had a finalized listing.

Grijalva has a long history of advocating for endangered species protection and recovery, especially for rare cats.

The CECIL Act is endorsed by 10 organizations.  A full list is available below.

Animal Welfare Institute

Center for Biological Diversity

Born Free USA

Animal Wellness Action

Humane Society Legislative Fund

The Humane Society of the United States

Humane Society International

Four Paws

Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

Endangered Species Coalition

The CECIL Act has 9 original cosponsors, all Democrats. A full list is available below.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (Pa.)

Rep. Matt Cartwright (Pa.)

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)

Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.)

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (Calif.)

Rep. Stephen Lynch (Mass.)

Rep. Grace Napolitano (Calif.)

Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.)