Thank you for contacting me about trophy hunting.
I understand the strength of feeling around this issue. The Government is committed to doing all it can to support wildlife and the environment, both in the UK and internationally, and I welcome that the Queen's Speech reaffirmed that ministers will be delivering on the manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered species.
The consultation on controls on the import and export of hunting trophies, which closed in February 2020, allowed respondents to offer views on which species they considered needed further restrictions. I understand that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the publication of the Government response to this consultation and accompanying call for evidence. However, I would like to assure you that the approach on hunting trophies will be comprehensive, robust and effective and will deliver the change promised to help protect thousands of species worldwide.
Climate change and global biodiversity decline are interlinked threats for wildlife and people. Biodiversity is declining at a dangerous and unprecedented speed, and species extinction rates are accelerating, with up to 1 million species threatened. Overexploitation is one of the drivers of species extinction and additional pressures on vulnerable species can result from unsustainable or inappropriately managed activity.
In the 25 Year Environment Plan, the UK Government committed to providing international leadership in protecting and improving international biodiversity and undertaking international action to protect endangered species. This is underpinned by a strong commitment to ensuring that the UK’s domestic policy does not threaten the conservation of species abroad. While I recognise that some conservationists believe trophy hunting can be an effective conservation tool, it is also important to acknowledge concerns around the practice of trophy hunting. I welcome that the Government has proposed a new Animals Abroad Bill to tackle animal cruelty and include bans on the trade of hunting trophies. I understand that the Government will be formally introducing legislation to protect animals abroad as soon as parliamentary time allows.
As part of its Animal Welfare Action Plan, the Government has proposed a new Animals Abroad Bill to tackle animal cruelty, and support conservation efforts overseas. This proposed Bill would include bans on the trade of hunting trophies that threaten the conservation status of species abroad, and the domestic sale and advertising of experiences overseas that are cruel to animals, such as elephant rides. As part of the process to condition them so they can obey keepers and allow people to ride them, I am aware that elephants can be subject to harsh treatment and living conditions. I understand that this proposed Bill was examined by MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, and I will examine its contents closely on behalf of my constituents to ensure it improves animal welfare standards still further.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.