Feds Under Fire for Granting Big-Game Hunters Permit to Import Endangered Black Rhinos’ Bodies, Despite Animal-Protection Groups’ and More Than 135,000 Citizens’ Objections

PETA to Sue U.S. FWS

For Immediate Release:
March 26, 2015

Contact:
Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

PETA has just sent an urgent letter notifying the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) that it will file a lawsuit over the FWS’ announcement today that it plans to allow big-game hunters Michael S. Luzich and Corey D. Knowlton to import from Namibia the endangered black rhinos they have killed and planned to kill, respectively, after winning two recent Dallas Safari Club auctions. PETA is warning the FWS not to destroy any e-mails, texts, or other communications that will show how the decision came about.

As PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out in the letter, more than 135,000 people and multiple animal-protection organizations spoke out against the permits, which defy the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) express prohibition on the import or export of endangered animals. The FWS is allowing Luzich and Knowlton to bypass this prohibition and flout the ESA in a “pay-to-play” arrangement in which the hunters will pay a sum to the Namibian government.

“PETA will be filing a lawsuit over this outrageous decision to allow two sports hunters to bring back the bodies of animals shot in cold blood to decorate their trophy walls,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “These permits are fundamentally inconsistent with the purpose of the Endangered Species Act, which is to conserve endangered species, not to authorize their slaughter.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to the FWS follows.

March 26, 2015

Tim Van Norman
Chief, Branch of Permit
Division of Management Authority
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Dear Mr. Van Norman:

I am writing on behalf of PETA and its more than 3 million members and supporters to request that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service release all records related to its decision to issue permits to Michael S. Luzich (PRT-33743B) and Corey D. Knowlton (PRT-33291B) to import the corpses of sport-hunted endangered black rhinoceroses. PETA plans to file a lawsuit over the decision to issue these permits and so further requests that the agency retain all records, including e-mails, text messages, and other communications, regarding who influenced this outrageous decision that runs counter to public opinion as well as to all reasonable animal-protection interests.

This information must be made available given the unprecedented opposition—including 15,000 comments and 135,000 petition signatures—from the public and animal-protection organizations to the issuance of these permits and given that the issuance of such permits is fundamentally inconsistent with the purpose of the Endangered Species Act, which is to conserve endangered species, not to authorize their slaughter.

Very truly yours,

Delci Winders
Delcianna Winders, Esq. Deputy General Counsel
Captive Animal Law Enforcement
PETA Foundation

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— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind