Tarnished trophies

  • Uriah ram from Pakistan

    Galen Rowell
  Safari hunters are bringing home exotic and endangered loot through a loophole in the Endangered Species Act, says a report by the Washington, D.C., group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Worse yet, PEER says, agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are greasing the process rather than policing it. By law, no permit can be given to bring a game trophy back to the U.S. unless some money is used to "enhance the survival of the species' through foreign conservation programs. PEER says wildlife agents in this country make little or no effort to make sure such programs exist. The money isn't peanuts: Hunters pay up to $50,000 to bag an animal like the threatened argali sheep, the largest wild sheep in the world. If the argali were officially listed as endangered rather than threatened, as U.S. scientists recommended over three years ago, its curved horns could not be legally imported at all. PEER says big game hunting interests have successfully pressured the wildlife agency officials to stall, keeping the argali and another Asian sheep, the urial, off the endangered species list. By continuing to issue scores of import permits annually, the agency promotes the hunting of these animals and helps drive both species to extinction, PEER charges.


To order the 30-page Tarnished Trophies: The Department of Interior's Wild Sheep Loophole, send $5 to PEER, 2001 S St., NW, Suite 570, Washington, DC 20009. "Danielle Desruisseaux