Many constituents have contacted me about trophy hunting.

Killing animals to display their heads, horns, antlers or hides as ‘trophies’ is cruel, damaging, outdated and unjustifiable and can be used as a cover for poaching as traffickers pass off illegal wildlife products as legal. It only helps push endangered wildlife closer to extinction and brings unnecessary suffering to animals. The practice of ‘canned hunting’, where wild animals are bred in captivity specifically to be hunted and shot in a small, fenced area, is also appalling.

A report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2016 found that at least 1.7 million animal ‘trophies’ were traded between countries over the previous decade. Of this number, 200,000 trophies were from threatened species. I support ending the import of wild animal trophies from threatened species, and any ban should cover all species above ‘least concern’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. This would include species classed as vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered and extinct in the wild, and hunting holidays should not be legal.

Currently, the import of hunting trophies is legal as long as the animal is licensed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). However, the trade is exacerbating the decline of threatened species and causes much unnecessary suffering.

Following a consultation on options to restrict the import and export of hunting trophies into the UK, which closed on 25 February 2020, the Government announced in December 2021 its intention to ban the import of hunting trophies from nearly 7,000 endangered, threatened and near-threatened species.

The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Henry Smith MP, passed its Second Reading on 25 November 2022 with support from both the Opposition and the Government, and I hope that the Bill will complete its final stages on 17th March.

Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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