Imagine what you would do if you had $77,000? That is the amount of money that American taxpayers paid for secret service protection for Donald Trump Jr. during his trophy hunting trip to kill a rare argali sheep in Mongolia. The recent revelation of this expense comes from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington which dug into his controversial trip last year after ProPublica broke the story of the trip in December 2019.

The argali sheep, a beautiful animal with long, curving horns, roams the highlands of Central Asia and is a symbol of the natural heritage of the region. Argali from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Tajikistan are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the import of a hunting trophy of an ESA-listed species can be authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only if the import enhances the conservation of the species. There is no evidence that this was the case. Nine months after the hunt took place, there is still no information on the location of Trump Jr.’s argali trophy, or if he applied for a permit to import the sheep carcass and if so, how this hunt enhances the survival of the species.

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Trump Jr. is an avid trophy hunter who uses his wealth to travel across the globe to kill rare animals and has often been in hot water over his controversial escapades.

Here are some highlights:

  • In 2012, photos of a trophy hunting spree in Zimbabwe by Trump Jr. and his brother Eric sparked outrage. One showed Trump Jr. holding the tail of an elephant and a knife as he stands next to a rifle leaning on the carcass of an elephant, and another showed the brothers smiling while holding up a dead leopard. Other images documented the Trump brothers “celebrating” their kills of a kudu, civet cat, waterbuck, and crocodile. According to news reports, the trophy hunting outfitter “Hunting Legends” arranged the trip, and said that it was not the first time that the Trump brothers had used its services.
  • In 2017, Trump Jr. ditched the protections of the Secret Service and took a trip to the Yukon to allegedly kill a moose.
  • In 2018, Trump Jr. reportedly spent three days on a trophy hunting trip and shot two Iberian ibex in Spain. The outfitter who arranged his hunt, Wild Hunting Spain, featured Trump Jr. prominently on its testimonial page. We caught a glimpse of his ibex trophy when it was displayed at the Safari Club International’s convention in Reno earlier this year.
  • In 2019, there were more escapades: Trump Jr. auctioned off several hunting trips with himself for Hunter Nation, a group with the self-proclaimed mission “to restore hunters to their rightful place as America’s truest conservationists and protectors of our herds, flocks, and fisheries in the minds of policymakers and the general public through effective public relations media campaigns.” The group’s social media page is filled with trophy hunters gloating over slain animals, including cougars, wolves, and bears.
  • In February 2020 at SCI’s annual convention—where wealth, privilege, and power come together to share a revolting, common goal to mow down the world’s rarest and most beloved wildlife—Donald Trump Jr. was the headliner. He not only spoke to a room filled with fellow trophy hunters, but he also worked the crowd, enticing attendees to bid on an opportunity to hunt with him. The two winning bidders paid $340,000 to join him for what was promoted as a “dream hunt” on a luxury yacht in Alaska to kill back-tailed deer and sea ducks.
  • In February 2020, Trump Jr. made headlines yet again when he was granted a permit to hunt a grizzly bear in Alaska, the only U.S. state where this species can legally be hunted. Grizzly bears are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states. This trophy hunt is particularly concerning as grizzly bears generally have low population densities and reproductive rates, and high adult survival, making them susceptible to over-killing.

Make no mistake about what motivates a trophy hunter. Bragging rights and the selfish thrill to kill a rare animal underpin this elitist, macabre hobby, not conservation of the species or, as trophy hunting proponents wrongly claim, supporting underprivileged communities in faraway places.

In reality, trophy hunting has nothing to do with conservation. It actually hurts wildlife conservation and has led to population declines of elephants, lions, and leopards, threatening their very survival. Trophy hunters deliberately target the strongest or biggest animals, weakening genetic resilience and diversity and wreaking havoc on the social cohesion of animal groups. By killing older animals, trophy hunters deprive younger animals of learning the knowledge and behaviors of older animals to survive in the wild. In many cases, trophy hunting can also exacerbate human-wildlife conflicts which can increase public intolerance towards wildlife.

Trophy hunting is a colonial pastime where the goal is to kill imperiled wildlife for nothing more than grinning with dead animals for a photo. We suggest that Donald Trump Jr. find a new hobby—one that doesn’t cost animal lives and American tax dollars.

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Sign this petition to help end trophy hunting!

Sign this petition to protect Alaska’s wildlife!

Don’t let Trump Jr. kill a grizzly bear! Sign this petition to demand that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put an end to all grizzly bear hunting!

For more information about trophy hunting, read:

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