UPS and FedEx buck anti-hunting groups, continue flying trophies

With major passenger airlines changing their policies on transporting animal trophies from abroad, two cargo carriers are staying the course despite a campaign from the animal groups.

Following the killing of Cecil, a celebrity lion, last month in month in Zimbabwe by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer and the resulting outcry, Delta, American and United airlines announced this week they would ban the shipment of big game trophies from animals such as lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo worldwide as freight.

However, United Parcel Service and Fed Ex are continuing to accept legitimate shipments of animal parts for taxidermy purposes.

“There are many items shipped in international commerce that may spark controversy,” UPS public relations director Susan Rosenberg told the Washington Post. “The views on what is appropriate for shipment are as varied as the audiences that hold these views.

“UPS takes many factors under consideration in establishing its shipping policies, including the legality of the contents and additional procedures required to ensure compliance. We avoid making judgments on the appropriateness of the contents. All shipments must comply with all laws, including any relevant documentation from the shipper required in the origin and destination location of the shipments,” said Rosenberg.

This news isn’t sitting well with anti-hunting groups. The Humane Society of the United States and its global partner, Humane Society International are mounting a campaign calling not only UPS and FedEx out on their policy, but also each of the estimated 250 global carriers — both passenger and freight — that refuse to ship trophies.

“Without a way to transport the trophy home, these hunters would have no impetus for traveling to Africa to kill these iconic animals in the first place,” wrote HSUS President Wayne Pacelle in a letter to the carriers. “I hope that your company will make the humane and profitable decision to heed your consumers’ wishes and stop transporting the trophies of magnificent African wildlife.”

Pacelle goes on to contend trophy hunters are driving lions to extinction, citing that 400 per year are harvested by American hunters in Africa. The group maintains some 3,703 lion trophies have been imported into the U.S. since 2010.

“There is no financial or other reason for any airline to continue to aid and abet this industry, and their passengers would be horrified to know that below them in the cargo hold could be the lifeless remains of a once magnificent wild animal killed for kicks,” said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife for HSI.

Sportsman’s advocates disagree with assessments that lawful big game hunting is harmful to the species survival, citing local governments set their own quotas and bag limits within their assessed allowances.

“Hunters are the true conservationists,” Dave Duncan, a safari outfitter explained to Time. “If it weren’t for hunters, there probably wouldn’t be any animals left in the United States.”