Rep. Brendan Boyle Takes On Feds’ Secretive ‘Pay-to-Play’ Wildlife Permit Scheme

Pennsylvania Congress Member Seeks to Stop Endangered Species Permits From Being Granted in Exchange for Donations to Questionable Groups

For Immediate Release:
June 27, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382


Upset that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is quietly allowing trophy hunters, traveling circuses, and other exotic animal abusers to pay as little as $500 to unvetted domestic and foreign “conservation” charities in exchange for permits to violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pennsylvania) has sent a letter to FWS Director Daniel Ashe calling on the agency to end this unauthorized “pay-to-play” scheme.

Following actions taken by PETA to expose and stop this abusive practice, Rep. Boyle—who serves on the powerful House Committees on Foreign Affairs and on Oversight and Government Reform—launched an investigation that has revealed that virtually every one of the more than 1,300 ESA permits given out in the last five years has involved pay-to-play. Some of the permits already granted under this scheme allow individuals and organizations to use endangered tigers and elephants in abusive traveling exhibitions, to hunt endangered black rhinoceroses and import their remains, and to conduct invasive experiments on endangered monkeys by making donations to questionable “conservation” organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

Some of the recipients of these donations have close ties to the permit applicants or do little or no work to conserve endangered species. FWS has admitted to Rep. Boyle that Congress has not approved this practice, that FWS does not check the legitimacy of the organizations to which applicants claim to send money, and that the agency does not confirm whether any money is actually sent—or if it is, whether it is spent on conservation.

“This unauthorized loophole allows people to buy their way out of the species protections of the ESA and undermines our collective, global efforts to protect endangered and threatened animals from harm and abuse,” says Rep. Boyle. “It is especially irresponsible for FWS to steer donations to unvetted foreign entities given the well-documented link between wildlife trafficking and terrorist activities. This is as much an issue of national security as it is of animal welfare.”

“Our government has no business allowing trophy hunters, abusive circuses, and animal experimenters to cut a check and be handed a free pass to violate the Endangered Species Act,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “Rep. Brendan Boyle is out to put a stop to this despicable pay-to-play program, which strips endangered animals of essential protection.”

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