Trump administration reportedly approves trophy hunter's permit for endangered rhino remains

The trophy hunter reportedly paid $400,000 to hunt inside a Namibian park.

September 7, 2019, 11:30 PM

A Michigan trophy hunter's permit to bring the skull, skin and horns from a critically endangered black rhinoceros he shot in Africa to the U.S. will likely be approved by the Trump administration, according to a report by The Associated Press.

Chris Peyerk, of Shelby Township, Mich., applied for the import permit in April. The "applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) from Namibia for the purpose of enhancing the propagation or survival of the species," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services documents show.

Peyerk paid $400,000 to an anti-poaching program so that he could get permission to hunt the "critically endangered species" inside a Namibian national park, the AP reports.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says there are about 5,500 black rhinos left in the wild.

PHOTO: A black rhino is pictured in Ngorongoro crater Conservation Area of Southern Serengeti National Park in Arusha Region, Tanzania, on August 25, 2019.
A black rhino is pictured in Ngorongoro crater Conservation Area of Southern Serengeti National Park in Arusha Region, Tanzania, on August 25, 2019.

News of the Trump administration's pending approval was met with swift backlash from animal rights groups across the globe who say the U.S. should not encourage the killing of endangered animals.

"We urge our federal government to end this pay-to-slay scheme that delivers critically endangered rhino trophies to wealthy Americans while dealing a devastating blow to rhino conservation," Kitty Block, president, and CEO of the Humane Society said in a statement. "While we cannot turn back the clock to save this animal, the Administration can stop the U.S. from further contributing to the demise of this species by refusing future import permits of black rhino trophies. Black rhinos must be off-limits to trophy hunters."

"The Trump Administration has dealt another blow to wildlife protection by granting its third permit to import a critically endangered black rhino trophy," Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said in a statement.

The black rhinoceros, which can weigh anywhere from 1,760 to 3,080 pounds, is a critically endangers species. However, the current population trend is increasing, according to National Geographic.

Black rhinos are known for their two horns, which can grow up to 5ft in length, and Nat Geo says those horns are the reason their lives are at risk from poachers.

"Many animals have been killed for the hard, hairlike growth, which is revered for medicinal uses in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The horn is also valued in North Africa and the Middle East as an ornamental dagger handle," National Geographic wrote. "The black rhino once roamed most of sub-Saharan Africa, but today is on the verge of extinction due to poaching fueled by commercial demand for its horn."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, which is the agency that receives the trophy hunting permits, defended this type of conservation hunting, saying it actually benefits the species in the long-run.

"Legal, well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation," said Laury Parramore, spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, to the AP.

Under President Barack Obama, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued the first critically endangered black rhino trophy import permit in 33 years.

ABC News did not immediately hear back from the Trump administration or the Department of the Interior when reached for comment.

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