Avoid Trophy Seizure - US Fish & Wildlife Services Starts Zero Tolerance Policy

Discussion in 'Before & After the Hunt' started by AfricaHunting.com, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    US Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) Starts Zero Tolerance Policy - How You Can Avoid Trophy Seizures

    US Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) has begun to implement a zero tolerance policy on trophy shipments with any errors or omissions on import / export documentation, no matter how innocent it might be. Where the service previously allowed hunters to return their shipment to the exporting country for re-import with correct documents, agents are now moving forward with seizures. This information comes from John Jackson, III of Conservation Force.

    Once the trophy shipment has been seized, those trophies are considered contraband, which by definition is illegal to possess. The hunter is stripped of all protection of property and has no hope of reclaiming his trophies.

    To help hunters avoid such situation, John Jackson, III of Conservation Force, has created a Trophy Problem Checklist For Importation To The US (see attached document). This list will need to be updated from time to time though for now it will help all hunters, safari operators and import / export agents and shipping brokers catch and fix problems before importation to the US. Make sure they understand the urgency of this matter. This year alone, US Fish & Wildlife has detained and seized or forced forfeiture of hundreds of trophies worth millions of dollars. Don't be one of these statistics, act now before your trophy ships!
     

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  2. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    . . . no matter how innocent it might be?

    Just another example of unbridled arrogance perpetrated by a governmental agency clearly bent on ‘punishing rather than assisting’ those it is supposed to serve.
    .
     
  3. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    ..As I said in the above article, I don't think we as hunters should be punished for paper work being filled out by the taxidermists & shippers. If they ever get real lazy no one will ever get their trophy shipments. It's total arrogance on behalf of our government!! A trend that seems to get better as the days go on!!
     
  4. browningbbr

    browningbbr AH Enthusiast

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    I did some checking on this as soon as the post was put up - I have trophies in transit, so I contacted my Taxidermist to see what he knew about it. He told me that he first became aware of this on 12/10/09 and had done some checking:

    Per the taxidermist and the import/customs broker that he's using to bring in my horns and hides, this is not resulting in wide spread seizures of trophies. The more well-known and experienced dip/pack operations and importers are not having a lot of problems. This is primarily occuring with a handful of the small operators that are not well-versed on the regulations.

    'Not to say we should not be concerned and not to say that the government can't act in brainless ways - it just sounds like that if you are using more professional operators to bring back your trophies, the risk is quite low.

    If anyone is hearing anything different than this, please let us know.

    - browningbbr
     
  5. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    browningbbr. . . I don't necessarily disagree with the main points of your post which seems to be that the situation; 'is not resulting in wide spread seizures of trophies'. . . . and by using; 'more professional operators to bring back your trophies, the risk is quite low'. Remember, according to the original post; 'This year alone, US Fish & Wildlife has detained and seized or forced forfeiture of hundreds of trophies worth millions of dollars'. I seriously doubt that each of those seizures was from some small operator that was not well-versed on the regulations.

    Personally I don't care how experienced the outfitter is, or how professional the shipping operator is, all people make 'innocent mistakes' from time to time. Even USFWS, yeah, go figure! To now know that any 'innocent mistake' will lead to a shipment being 'considered contraband' and 'the hunter stripped of all protection of property with no hope of reclaiming his trophies' is flat out horse shit.

    This situation should not be tolerated or minimized.
     
  6. Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    Big5 I could not agree with your post more... I must add that in Southern Africa for the most part hunting outfitters are not involved in the shipping process as specialized shipping agents are usually used.

    This situation with the US Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) has been progressively building over the last several years, getting more strict until now when they finally announce this zero tolerance policy. It's gotten so bad that I had a client a couple of years ago who had saved for years for his dream hunt of a lifetime; plains game and Leopard... He was fortunate enough to take a beautiful Leopard, but had it seized by USFWS due to a minor clerical error of dates being written inaccurately by the Namibian Ministry of Environment & Tourism (MET) and this not being "caught" by the shipping agent.


    Here is more of what happened...

    His trophies finally made it to San Francisco, but there was a problem with his Leopard import permit from Namibia. Apparently the Namibian Govt forms only had a 2 month expiration date and should have been 6-months, so the USFWS seized his Leopard because the Namibian permit was expired on entry. The Namibian Govt. has recognized this and sent a formal letter to the Washington D.C. Office of USFWS but they refused to recognize as part of the permit. He was told by the expeditor he was using in San Francisco that he would receive an official notice of seizure, and would then have the option of surrendering his trophy or beginning the appeal process. They explained that this can be a long and tedious process which he engaged in aggressively for over a year with the help of an attorney (a fellow hunter who help him generously and did the work pro bono) but to no avail... If this is not a zero tolerance policy I do not know what is.


    Here is a letter to USFWS from the shipping agent in Namibia. They are not the company that I recommend however they are considered reputable and have been in this business for a long time...

    My name is *****. I am the ***** of ***** in Windhoek, Namibia. I am writing this letter on behalf of my client, *****, in support of his Petition for Remission of the forfeiture of his leopard hide and skull.

    \My company handled the export of the leopard hide and skull from Namibia for Mr. *****. Because of the time necessary to prepare the items for shipment and obtain the required documents, Mr. ***** had, of course, returned to the United States prior to the export of his trophies. As is the usual custom and practice for this type of export transaction, he did not personally review and approve the documents prior to export.

    My staff was responsible for obtaining the Namibia CITES export permit for Mr. *****’s leopard. I did not realize, until the problems arose with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service at time of import, that the Namibian CITES authority had made a clerical error and issued the permit with an expiration date of only sixty days, rather than the customary six months. Had my staff caught this error prior to export, we would have contacted the Namibian CITES authority and had the document corrected prior to shipment.

    I subsequently (after the import) learned that the Namibian CITES authority had made a clerical error in the expiration date of the permit. Unfortunately, my staff compounded this error by its own mistake in failing to realize the Namibian CITES authority had erred in the expiration date on the face of the export permit. This was an error on the part of my staff.

    Please rest assured that my company would never intentionally ship a consignment with an expired CITES export permit. This was totally an innocent mistake and error which arose first because the Namibian CITES authority made a clerical error on the face of the export permit, and then because my staff, assuming the export permit was issued for the customary six month period, did not catch the error on the permit prior to shipment.

    In attempting to resolve this problem for Mr. *****, the Namibian CITES authority assured me it was their clerical error, and that they would be happy to resolve this matter by either the U.S. accepting Namibia’s assurance of the propriety of the export and correcting the clerical error of the current permit, or by being allowed to correct this clerical error by the issuance of a replacement permit with the correct expiration date. Apparently, neither of these was acceptable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not allow this minor error to be corrected, I request that I be allowed to obtain the consent of the Namibian CITES authority for the leopard hide and skull to be returned to Namibia, and then be permitted to have the trophies returned to Namibia.



    USFWS ultimately denied his appeal, refused to return the Leopard skin and skull to Namibia, destroying it instead.

    Don't think that it cannot happen to you, innocent mistakes can come from any direction, including the CITES permit issued by the country you are hunting in... my advice is read every detail looking for any possible mistakes especially when it is an animal that requires a CITES permit.

    I share this story with you because I think that it is important to know what can happen and how easily and innocently minor errors can cost you dearly... I can assure you that this happens sometimes but you will rarely or never hear about it unless it happens to someone you know. This type of situation falls into the dark shadows of the hunting industry that people in this industry don't like to talk about... This is something that has never happen to one of our client's trophies before, however it is a clear example of this zero tolerance policy.

    I think that it is really important to share this kind of information with others as it not only empowers hunters but hopefully prevents the same from happening to fellow hunters.
     
  7. DLS

    DLS AH Member

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    What I am failing to comprehend is why ANYONE would put up with this bullshit. USFWS is a government agency. That means they work on behalf of the people, not the other way around. If the animal was legally taken, with proper paperwork, then there should be no question at all as to its legitimacy and simply agreeing to get corrected paperwork before allowing it into the country should be all that is necessary. Some people need to scream bloody murder at our elected politicians about this crap, and let them know that they're sick and tired and no longer willing to be treated this way.

    I think it is high time that hunters take a cue from the animal rights fanatics and environmental groups and start suing each and every time something doesn't go the way we think it should be handled. I don't think this attitude should be tolerated at all, and I think that whoever is behind it should be taken to task in the strongest terms possible. This is still the United States of America, despite what some of our politicians wish it to be.
     
  8. ikeda

    ikeda AH Veteran

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    You only have to look at who the "head man" is to see why the USFWS has taken this approach. I agree, SCI should sue at every opportunity, be pro active not reactive!
     
  9. jaustin

    jaustin AH Veteran

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    I agree 100 % DLS, we need to change our mindset that we have done nothing wrong so we don't have to prove anything. We are going to have to start kicking and screaming as much as the animal right terrorists.
     
  10. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    ...DLS you hit the nail right on the head!! IT's high time the people take back our government & agencies & start making them work for us!! It's B.S> when you have done nothing wrong & their ignorance will cost you thousands of dollars! Because they are to damn lazy to do their job and help serve the people. It goes along with the same stuff on allowing animals into this country that other countrys allow following the CITES rules.Some one has to WAKE up and soon!!!
     
  11. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Now I hope my American friends will not take this the wrong way, but the USFWS has absolutely zero credibility in many other countries and is in fact viewed with contempt. CITES was set up as a body to help regulate the international trade in wildlife and to act as a global conservation agency, if you will, to establish quotas and limit or suspend the import and export of wildlife species where necessary.

    For some reason the USFWS has decided that it knows what is best for every other country in the world and indeed has superior knowledge in how to manage wildlife in other countries. In truth, the people that run the USFWS know that American hunters are THE largest client base on an international basis and that either prohibiting or drastically curtailing the number of animals of any given species that are allowed to be imported into the US, they can remotely impose controls in other countries.

    Unlike most other countries (if not all other countries) which take the stance that if CITES says it is OK, then it is indeed OK, the USFWS has a god complex and thinks it knows better. Increasingly they are doing things that would lead one to believe that they are no better than the many anti-hunting groups who persist in doing things that ultimately cause harm to the animals and the environments they claim to care so much about.

    In recent years the USFWS have made decisions that prevent countries from establishing sound conservation strategies for threatened species because the USFWS prohibits import and thereby dismisses any chance of that country allowing the game animals to pay their own way and be of value to local people. They make decisions that negatively impacts the economies and the day to day lives of people in remote communities of other countries and do not seem to give a damn.

    Their powers have gotten to the point that they are in fact inhibiting sound conservation and wildlife initiatives within your own country. Look no further than your wolf and grizzly populations in the lower 48 and the wood bison restoration program in Alaska.

    It has gotten to the point that I place about as much stock in how the USFWS views things as I do in what the ASPCA and PETA has to say.
     
  12. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    Skyline . . . you would get no argument from me with respect to anything you said in your post. Here's one American who agrees with you whole heartedly. As you may have gathered from my earlier post I feel much personal contempt for not only how the USFWS operates, but also for their arrogance in somehow coming to the belief that they do in fact possess superior knowledge of how to manage wildlife in other countries.

    The USFWS exemplifies arrogance in oh so many ways.
    .
     
  13. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    ...Kelly outstanding post & clearly the truth was spoken! They are running their own agenda just like our Grand Puba in the states. Totally disgusting!!!
     
  14. AFRICAN INDABA

    AFRICAN INDABA CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Checklist for Trophy Import to the US

    Typed Format of the Checklist for Trophy Import to the US

    John J Jackson III from Conservation Force created a draft checklist of reoccurring problems that should be looked for before the shipment of any CITES trophy. This list was circulated to the PH and taxidermist associations and they in turn will circulate it to all concerned, including their hunting clients. It is imperative that all errors are proactively discovered and corrected before shipment of any trophy. The checklist has been evolving and will be revised from time to time. Conservation Force will collaborate with all concerned in keeping the checklist simple, accurate and up-to-date.


    Tags: Must be
    1) permanently attached
    2) through a hole. Ear, eye, mouth, nose, bullet holes are okay, but not around the leg above the foot.
    3) Tag number must match that on the permit.

    Permit Expiration:
    Get a faxed copy of the import permit before exporting. Do not ship an Appendix I species without seeing a copy of the import permit to be sure it will not expire before the shipment arrives. Examine the export permit for expiration date and look for date errors.

    Export Permit:
    Examine for errors of name of permittee and name and number of species, signature and seal by CITES designated officers.

    Validation:
    Make sure section 14 of export permit is fully completed, i.e. all parts itemized, signed and sealed by designated CITES officer before the final step of shipment.

    Purpose Code:
    If crafted or worked item of trophy parts (feet, tail swish, bracelet, scrimshawed tusks, boots, gun cases, clothing, etc.), export permit must be coded “P” for person instead of “H” for hunting trophy. If part of an elephant or rhino trophy on Appendix II, it must have an Appendix I import permit (Form 3-200-37) because it’s not treated as a trophy. Only trophy trade is on Appendix II, not trophies converted into “personal” items.

    Valuation:
    Understatement of value is the cause of excessive seizures, i.e. forfeiture of $50,000 trophies for a $500 offense. A true representative value should be used, not understatement. Pro-rated cost of acquisition (cost of the hunt) is best, or insurance value. Note: trophies are not taxed upon entry into the U.S. but they most certainly are seized. The exporter should use the full value from the get-go as import brokers carry it over onto their declarations.

    In Transit:
    Transfer through intermediate countries must be immediate, without delay. A hunter traveling with his trophy cannot layover in an intermediate country without appropriate import and re-export permits from that country.

    Post-shipment Corrections:
    Exporting authorities must immediately contact and confer with U.S. authorities before issuing a retrospective permit or replacement permit, not months later or after issuing a new permit. Retrospective and replacement permits must be issued immediately, not weeks or months later. The importing agent must set corrective action in motion immediately and use a true value for the trophy on the 3-177 Declaration entry form rather than carry over as the value the export fee or some other incorrect value from the export documents.

    Re-shipment:
    Send trophies back whenever you can, else it is treated as illegal to possess contraband like stolen goods or illegal drugs without any protectable interest.

    Re-shipment Import Permits:
    When trophies are returned to the exporting country and re-shipped new, original import permits are required.
     
  15. husb0023

    husb0023 AH Senior Member

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    The USFWS is just like every other part of the U.S. government... completely out of control with no way to hold them accountable. I wonder how many people need to get poked in the chest before we organize and do something about it.
     
  16. Conservation Force

    Conservation Force CONTRIBUTOR AH Member

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    TROPHY PROBLEM CHECKLIST FOR U.S.

    TROPHY PROBLEM CHECKLIST FOR U.S.
    Amended October 2010

    • TAGS: Must be 1) permanently attached 2) through a hole. Ear, eye, mouth, nose, bullet holes are okay, but not around the leg above the foot. Tag n umber must match that on the permit.

    • PERMIT EXPIRATION: Get A faxed copy of the import permit before exporting. Do not ship an Appendix I species without seeing a copy of the import permit to be sure it will not expire before the shipment arrives. Examine the export permit for expiration date and look for date errors.

    • EXPORT PERMIT: Examine for errors of name of permittee and name and number of species, signature and seal by CITES designated officers. The quota year and quota on the permit and tag are the year taken, not the year of export.

    • VALIDATION: Make sure section 14 of export permit is fully completed, i.e. all parts itemized, signed and sealed by designated CITES or Customs officer before the final step of shipment.

    • PURPOSE CODE: If crafted or worked item of trophy parts (feet, tail swish, bracelet, scrimshawed tusks (but only if not elephant ivory), boots, gun cases, clothing, etc.), export permit must be coded “P” for person instead of “H” for hunting trophy. Note: Worked elephant ivory can’t be imported at all due to the AECA but worked elephant bone can be if it is coded “P” and includes an Appendix I export and import permit, import form 3-200-37. “Worked” includes painted, etched, pasted with skins, etc.

    • VALUATION: Understatement of value is the cause of excessive seizures, i.e. forfeiture of $50,000 trophies for a $500 offense. A true representative value should be used, not understatement. Prorated cost of acquisition (cost of the hunt) is best, or insurance value. Note: trophies are not taxed upon entry into the U.S. but they most certainly are seized. The exporter should use the full value from the get-go as import brokers carry it over onto the declarations. Import agents especially heed this when a problem shipment.

    • IN TRANSIT: Transfer through intermediate countries must be immediate, without delay. A hunter traveling with his trophy cannot layover in an intermediate country without appropriate import and re-export permits from that country.

    • POST-SHIPMENT CORRECTIONS: Export authorities must immediately contact and confer with U.S. Law Enforcement Headquarters before issuing a retrospective permit or replacement permit, not months later or after issuing a new permit. Retrospective and replacement permits must be issued immediately, not weeks or months later. The importing agent must set corrective action in motion immediately and use a true value for the trophy on the 3-177 Declaration entry form rather than carry over as the value the export fee or some other incorrect value from the export documents.

    • RE-SHIPMENT: Send trophies back whenever you can, else it is treated as illegal to possess contraband like stolen goods or illegal drugs without any protectable interest at all.

    • RE-SHIPMENT IMPORT PERMITS: When trophies are returned to the exporting country and reshipped, new, original import permits are required because the originals are marked cancelled.
     
  17. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    Unfortunately this can be a real problem. A frind of mine hunted in RSA last summer. He killed a nice impala ram and had it shipped with his other trophies. He told me this week that his impala was siezed by USFWS. It seems that the face of the impala had a few black hairs and they decided it should of been marked as a "Black Impala". So they have siezed it and will apparently lose his trophy. The area that he hunted had Black impala . He therorized that it may of been a cross-breed..... Seems rather silly to me. Thw USFWS is out of control in my opinion. Bruce
     

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