Eustace & Garcia Ban on Transporting Game Trophies through N.J. Airports after Death of Cecil the Lion Head to Governor’s Desk

Additional Eustace Bill Would Boost Protections for Endangered Species in N.J.

Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace and Carmelo Garcia proposed to help protect threatened animals from extinction by banning the transport of game trophies of through airports and facilities controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey gained final legislative approval from the full Assembly on Monday.

Since the airports and facilities controlled by the Port Authority – Newark Liberty International, J.F.K and LaGuardia – are some of the most heavily traveled routes back to the U.S. from countries in Africa, Eustace and Garcia hope the ban will serve as a disincentive for killing endangered animals for sport.

“This ban would cut off a link back to the United States for game hunters intent on importing the dead carcasses of endangered animals,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Hopefully making it more difficult for these types of hunters to transport their ‘prizes’ will give them pause or perhaps even make them reconsider this type of inhumane activity.”

“The news of the tragic demise of Cecil the lion illustrates how globally connected our ecosystems are in this day and age and underscores the need to improve our conservation efforts, both at home and abroad,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “There’s only so much we can do on a state level, but by banning the import of endangered game trophies, we can have a major impact.”

The first bill (A-4773), approved by a vote of 49-17-6, prohibits the import, export, shipment, receipt, possession, processing, sale, offer for sale, or transport of any priority species, including any part, product, or offspring thereof, or the dead body or parts thereof (excluding fossils) at airports or port facilities owned or operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The bill defines a priority species as: (1) any big five African species; or (2) any species or subspecies of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, or ray listed: (a) in Appendix I or Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; or (b) as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.

The big five African species are the African elephant, African leopard, African lion, black rhinoceros and white rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo.

Any person in violation of the bill would be guilty of a fourth degree crime and would be subject to imprisonment for up to 18 months and a fine of up to $100,000. Upon conviction, any property used in connection with the violation would be forfeited and disposed of in a manner consistent with the best interest of the public. Any penalty imposed under the bill would be in addition to any penalty that may be imposed pursuant to any other applicable law.

Both bills, however, carve out an exemption for priority species that are to be used for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research at a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal “Animal Welfare Act” or at a facility conducting biomedical research in compliance with the United States National Institutes of Health’s “Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.”

A second Eustace bill (S-3416/A-4808), approved by a vote of 51-16-6, would prohibit possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of animal species threatened with extinction.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit the taking, possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale or offer for sale, or shipment of: (1) any big five African species or the parts or products of those species; and (2) any species or subspecies of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, or ray listed: (a) in Appendix I or Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; or (b) as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species, or the parts or products of those species or subspecies.

A person who violates the bill would be subject to the penalties set forth in the “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act.”
T
his bill also carves out an exemption for an exemption for wildlife being used by a motion picture or television production company in a motion picture or television production.

Specifically, a violator would be guilty of a crime of the third degree, and be subject to a criminal fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, a civil penalty of up to $25,000, and a civil administrative penalty of up to $25,000 per day of violation, as well as other penalties. Notwithstanding these penalties, a person who possesses wildlife in violation of the bill and who fails to obtain a certificate of possession within 180 days after the effective date, would be subject only to a civil penalty of up to $25 for each day that person possesses the prohibited wildlife without a certificate.

The bills now head to the governor’s desk.