Big-game hunting embezzler from Minnesota imprisoned in North Carolina

This photo shows Jerome "Jerry" Hennessey in Mexico in January 2013. The photo was taken by Arizona-based hunting company, Sonora Dark Horn. The discovery of Hennessey's alleged embezzlement from the Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator has led to federal charges against Hennessey. (Photo courtesy of Sonora Dark Horn)
This photo shows Jerome “Jerry” Hennessey in Mexico in January 2013. The photo was taken by Arizona-based hunting company, Sonora Dark Horn. The discovery of Hennessey’s alleged embezzlement from the Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator has led to federal charges against Hennessey. (Photo courtesy of Sonora Dark Horn)

BUTNER, N.C. — Jerry Hennessey, who used money from the elevator he managed in Minnesota to pay for big-game hunting trips, on July 29 reported to the low-security area of Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina.

Hennessey, the former general manager of the Ashby Farmers Elevator Cooperative, was sentenced June 21 in Fergus Falls, Minn. He will serve eight years in prison for federal wire fraud and income tax charges. He pleaded guilty to stealing more than $5 million from the co-op over at least 15 years and writing co-op checks for big-game hunting trips across the globe. He had spent more than $500,000 on taxidermy alone and built facilities at his rural home to display it. Many of the payments were labeled for corn and soybeans to mask the fraud.

Hennessey’s fraud caused the dissolution of the co-op and sale of its assets, as well as the end of his marriage. Erik Ahlgren, a Fergus Falls attorney who serves as a state sponsored trustee for the former cooperative, confirmed that Hennessey’s Dalton residence with its two large outbuildings for taxidermy remains for sale.

Hennessey, 56, requested to be placed at the federal prison in Duluth and U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim said he would request it but could not guarantee it. Hennessey had been living with a daughter in the Minneapolis area. Butner is 1,200 miles from Minneapolis, nearly a 19-hour drive.

Butner’s low security area holds about 1,100 men. The institution lists Hennessey’s release date as May 21, 2026. There is no parole in the federal system, one of the reforms in the federal Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.

The Bureau of Prisons “attempts” to place inmates within a 500-mile radius of their “release residence,” according to its online information.

A bureau spokesperson declined to speak to the “circumstances relating to an individual inmate’s designation” to a particular institution. A “number of factors are considered,” including “security, population, programming, and medical needs.”

Hennessey in court noted he is a diabetic. He had taken several weeks of diabetic supplies when he asked a former elevator worker to drive him from Ashby to Des Moines in September 2018, prior to being charged with federal fraud charges. Hennessey returned to Minnesota and turned himself in after federal charges were filed in December.

FWP kills mountain lion found near Helena’s Centennial Park


MTN News File Photo

HELENA – A mountain lion found in Helena city limits has been killed and removed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The Helena Police Department reported the mountain lion was spotted at NorthWestern Energy property on the 1300 block of Last Chance Gulch around 7:30 a.m.

An employee saw the cat in the bushes near a building entrance.

Interim Police Chief Steve Hagen stated in a news release that “immobilizing and relocating mountain lions located in urban areas is not a safe/feasible option so lethal means are used.”

The HPD, animal control officers, and FWP all responded.

-Reported by Jacob Fuhrer/MTN News

Botswana lifts ban on big game hunting

A young bull elephant is seen in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

GABORONE (Reuters) – Botswana, home to almost a third of Africa’s elephants, lifted a ban on big game hunting on Wednesday, citing growing conflict between humans and wildlife and the negative impact of the hunting suspension on people’s livelihoods.

Conservationists estimate the southern African country has around 130,000 elephants, but some lawmakers say the number is much higher and causes problems for small-scale farmers.

“The Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension,” the Environment Ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry would like to reiterate that it will work with all stakeholders to ensure that re-instatement of hunting is done in an orderly and ethical manner”.

It said the return of wildlife hunting would take place in accordance with laws and regulations governing wildlife conservation, hunting and licensing, but did not elaborate. Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Onkokame Kitso Mokaila would hold a news conference on Thursday to give details, it said.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi set up a committee in June last year to consider the hunting ban, which was imposed by former President Ian Khama in 2014 after surveys showed declining wildlife populations.

At the time, the committee chair said it recommended “a legal framework that will enable the growth of a safari hunting industry and manage the country’s elephant population within the historic range”. The committee also called for “regular but limited” elephant culling.

Botswana, a mostly arid country the size of France, has a population of around 2.3 million people and its vast tracts of remote wilderness make it a magnet for foreign tourists who want to view wildlife.

Hunter reportedly shot at person he thought was Bigfoot

A Montana man who was out target shooting became a target himself when another shooter unloaded a barrage of gunfire at him after mistaking him for Bigfoot, authorities said.

The 27-year-old shooter told authorities he was putting up targets outside Helena on Sunday when bullets started flying toward him, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said, according to the Idaho Statesman.

One round came within three feet of the victim and another whizzed by even closer, he told police. The man said he ran behind nearby trees for cover and eventually confronted the shooter, who was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

“I thought you were Bigfoot,” the victim says the shooter told him, according to Dutton. “I don’t target practice — but if I see something that looks like Bigfoot, I just shoot at it.”

Once the man assured the gunman that he wasn’t Bigfoot — an ape-like creature said to inhabit wooded areas in the Northwest — the shooter advised him to wear an orange vest in the future.

But Dutton noted that “there was some question about the veracity of the report” because the victim who spoke to police a day after the alleged incident couldn’t provide a physical description of the shooter.

Police checked the area but didn’t find the pickup truck, ABC Fox Montana reported.

After local media reports of the man’s story, a woman said she had a similar experience in which she had been shot at by a man in an F-150.

“We’re working to find this person,” Dutton said. “It is of great concern that this individual might think it’s OK to shoot at anything he thinks is Bigfoot.”

If the reports are true, the shooter could face charges, Dutton said.

But the chief said he didn’t think the public at large was in danger, noting that “it seems to be a localized event to one geographic area.”

According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, there have been 46 sightings in Montana since 1978. In 1993, three backpackers spotted a massive upright animal running on two legs through the Gallatin National Forest.

Big game hunter who has killed more than 5,000 elephants says he is ‘totally unrepentant’ after being named in investigation into plummeting numbers – and admits killing 60 lions, 50 hippos, and 40 leopards

Ad 00:12 – up next: “Elephant poacher says national parks have more elephants than space”

An African hunter who claims to have killed more than 5,000 elephants says he is ‘totally unrepentant’ about the deaths he has caused.

Ron Thomson, 77, who worked in Africa’s national parks for almost six decades, claims he was not hunting the animals for pure sport but was managing population that would otherwise have got out of control.

However, animal rights campaigners point out that elephant numbers are in steep decline and say ‘management culling’ is often used as a cover for trophy hunting.

Mr Thomson was forced to defend his record after a report by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting branded him one of the world’s most prolific elephant killers.

On his website, Mr Thomson also claims to have killed 800 buffalo, 60 lions, 50 hippos and 40 leopards.

animal on the water: Campaigners rubbished Mr Thomson's claims, saying elephant numbers are in steep decline and 'management culls' are often used as fronts for trophy hunts© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Campaigners rubbished Mr Thomson’s claims, saying elephant numbers are in steep decline and ‘management culls’ are often used as fronts for trophy huntsThat total does not include kills he made while leading a culling team that shot 2,500 elephants and 300 hippos in Gonarezhou National Park in the 1970s.

Speaking to The Independent, he said: ‘I’m totally unrepentant, a hundred – ten thousand – times over for any of the hunting I’ve done because that’s not the problem.

‘The problem is we’ve got a bunch of so-called experts from the West telling us what to do. I’m a trained university ecologist – I must surely know something about this.’

During his career he has held posts including game warden of Hwange National Park, and was a professional hunter for three years.

He no longer routinely hunts, though said he would go again if invited, and instead writes books about his experiences, including God Created Man The Hunter.

On his website, he is described as ‘one of the most experienced African big game hunters alive today.’

In videos posted to the YouTube channel of his wildlife organisation, The True Green Alliance, Mr Thomson outlines his view of wildlife conservation.

a man looking at the camera: Ron Thomson, 77, says he is 'totally unrepentant' after killing more than 5,000 elephants during a nearly six decade career working in Africa's national parks© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Ron Thomson, 77, says he is ‘totally unrepentant’ after killing more than 5,000 elephants during a nearly six decade career working in Africa’s national parksHe argues that elephants are not an endangered species, that wildlife parks in southern Africa have ‘ten to 20 times more elephants’ than they can sustain, and that this is destroying the environment.

Without proper management, including culls, he argues that the parks will be overrun and endanger far more species than elephants alone.

Eduardo Gonçalves, founder of the Campaign to End Trophy Hunting, rubbished Mr Thomson’s claims – saying natural animal populations rarely ‘overstock’ themselves.

‘The African elephant population as a whole is in very serious decline,” he said, adding that ‘there are numerous instances of “management culling” being used as a cover for trophy-hunting.’

Mr Gonçalves’ report claims that, since the 1980s, elephant numbers in southern Africa have declined from 1.3million to just over 400,000.

In the same time period, hunters from around the globe have taken more than 100,000 trophies back to their home countries.

The group said there has been a four-fold increase in the number of elephant trophies taken in 2015 compared with 1985, and the jump in the amount of ivory taken over the same period was nearly twelve-fold.

Related slideshow: 14 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know Elephants Could Do (Reader’s Digest)

Freak accident in ditch near Morristown kills popular hunting guide

http://www.mankatofreepress.com/news/local_news/freak-accident-in-ditch-near-morristown-kills-popular-hunting-guide/article_5589bcc2-3a0e-11e9-8456-bb81e477ab3c.html

Pineur
Morristown resident Travis Pineur on a hunting expedition. He was killed Sunday in freak accident in a ditch during the blizzard. Photo courtesy of Caring Bridge

MORRISTOWN — A rural Morristown man killed while trying to free his pickup from a snowy ditch was a well-known big-game hunting and fishing guide who traveled the world in pursuit of trophies for himself and his clients.

Travis Pineur, co-founder of Nomad Adventures, died Sunday about 4 miles from his home in Morristown Township under a freak set of circumstances along a rural road, according to the Rice County Sheriff’s Office.

The 33-year-old Pineur chronicled many of his hunts in extensively produced videos on YouTube, where viewers see him hunting bear in Alaska, snow geese in Missouri and big game and fowl in New Zealand.

Pineur’s loss to hunting and fishing was felt not only in Minnesota but thousands of miles away.

H & H Alaskan Outfitters, on the Kenai Peninsula, posted on its Facebook page that “Travis’s personality was as big as the Alaska size game he hunted. He lived large, with adventure in his blood.

“Many of our clients had the privilege of hunting and spending time in the field with Travis. His dedication and skill were some of the best in the industry.”

On Sunday southwest of Faribault, a motorist who lives nearby stopped and attached a strap to the two vehicles, intending to pull the pickup from the ditch.

However, the strap broke on Tyler Nusbaum’s vehicle and sent the broken hitch hurtling toward Pineur’s pickup. The piece went through the windows of the camper top and the back of the pickup, and it hit Pineur in the back of the head, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Blizzard conditions prevented an air ambulance to respond to the scene, the Sheriff’s Office said. Instead, he was driven in an ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died.

Pineur is survived by his wife, Megan Pineur. The two were married last year and co-owned Nomad Adventures. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

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7 Tons, One Shot

Hank Konrad: hunter

http://www.methownet.com/grist/features/konrad_hunting.html

It’s not every day that you can walk into a local supermarket and find an African lion attacking a warthog right there by the checkout counters – unless you’re shopping at Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp.

The lion and warthog are among dozens of trophy animals from Africa, Canada and a smattering of other countries on display at the store, most of them sharing space with an assortment of merchandise stacked above the freezer cases.

“I ran out of room at home so I brought some of them down here for the kids to see,” explains Hank Konrad, store owner and passionate hunter.

Each animal has a story. For example, that male lion from Zambia that’s about to dine on the warthog was probably six or seven years old when he died. He had 19 females in his pride and is believed to have fathered three cycles of cubs, Konrad said. But after losing his pride and territory to another male, he was found wandering hungry and alone. He was so thin his ribs and spine stuck out, according to Jackson Konrad, Hank’s son, who was with him on the trip.

photoJudy and Hank Konrad pose with a greater kudu bull, a woodland antelope, taken for meat in Botswana last year while they were hunting in the Kalahari. Photo courtesy of Hank Konrad

“I tracked him for 12 days because I didn’t want to bait him,” Hank said. Finally, the lion came into the open. “He stopped and looked back.” It was the only moment Konrad had to take a shot and he didn’t hesitate.

The warthog is from Zimbabwe. “I shot him [on a different trip] so we could have dinner,” Konrad explained. The warthog skull that’s part of the exhibit is from the animal on display; the lion skull is not.

Both animals were restored to life-like prime by a taxidermist friend who lives outside Missoula, Mont. He’s worked on all the African animals for Konrad, who said he prefers poses and facial expressions that are as natural as possible – no snarls and added drama. He doesn’t discuss the business side of his passion, but Konrad said, “I’m not taking anything out of the store [to pay] for hunting.”

photoA male Himalayan Tahr, a wild goat with a lion-like mane, watches over grocery shoppers. Konrad shot it in New Zealand, where Tahr goats are hunted for meat. Photo by Karen West

And while he’s hunted many kinds of animals, Konrad said, “I’m not a scorekeeper kind of guy.” In fact, after about two dozen trips to Africa, elephants are the only animal he hunts there – unless “somebody wants something to eat.” Why? “Because it’s the biggest challenge… I’m not a killer. I’m a hunter.”

It takes absolute focus, he explained, to stand face-to-face with a charging bull elephant, knowing he wants to kill you and you want to drop him with a single shot to the brain so he dies instantly. Konrad said he’s never missed that shot. His elephant gun holds two .500 Nitro cartridges and the tracker who accompanies him also has a rifle – just in case.

One year he shot a bull that weighed 14,000 pounds. It was estimated to be about 70 years old, the upper end of an elephant’s lifespan. He only had one molar left in his mouth and couldn’t chew food properly, said Konrad, who started hunting as a child.

“I was born in the woods, outside Grangeville,” Idaho, into a family that raised some cattle, ran a small logging operation and worked as outfitters during elk hunting season, he said. His mother was a quarter Nez Perce and his dad a quarter Crow.

When he was in high school, Konrad recalled, “I used to get on the school bus every Friday with my rifle and my pack and nobody blinked an eye.” After school, he went to a ranch for target practice. “All the kids with pickups in the [school] parking lot had rifles in the rack,” he added. “Nobody shot anybody.”

He is a life member of Safari Club International, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation and the National Rifle Association. His three kids were trained in firearm safety and his six grandchildren will be, too. He said he opposes gun control.

He also said the United States government has gotten too big and is weakening the country. “We need to be self reliant again,” Konrad said. “We’ve taught our children that somebody else is responsible for everything. But that’s not the way it is.”

Self-reliance, by his definition, means taking care of your own – your kids, parents and the people in your own community — and not expecting the government to do it.

Konrad is legendary for quietly extending a generous helping hand in the community. “There’s nothing I won’t do for a working man but there’s nothing I’ll do for a man who won’t,” he said.

photoHank Konrad displays an 84-pound elephant tusk, one of the pair he has from his 2012 hunt in Botswana. Since the mid-1980s all elephant tusks being shipped from Africa are assigned a serial number to help track the ivory. Hunters must have permits and document their hunts with photographs. Konrad donates the hide and all meat to local villagers. Photo by Karen West

Hard work has been a hallmark of his life. He said his great-grandmother, Eva Cash, long ago told him: “All good things come to he who waits as long as he works like hell while he’s waiting.”

In 1975, Konrad moved to Twisp with his wife, Judy, a native of Lewiston, Idaho, and his brother and his wife. They bought the ‘Buckingham Palace’ grocery store, which was located where the Confluence Gallery is today.

“I worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week,” Konrad said. “I took a half-day off when Stephanie was born.” Stephanie is the eldest of the Konrad’s three children. She’s living in Wyoming, although her son works at the store. So do the Konrad’s other two children – daughter, Carlan, and son, Jackson, who runs the meat shop. Judy Konrad works in the office. Hank’s Harvest Foods employs 54 people, making it one of the largest employers in the valley.

Over the years, Konrad has had several businesses in addition to the grocery store including an excavating company and a well-digging business. He’s also invested in real estate. The family lives on a 1,000 acre ranch put together over the years up Finley Canyon, where the kids can learn about life by roaming the hills, hunting, fishing in the lake and riding their ATVs where grandpa designates so they don’t “tear up the land.” And you can bet they know the stories of the animals in his trophy room.

Konrad said he likes to travel “but I want to go into the bush and meet the real people.” Judy accompanies him and does some hunting, although she also travels with a group of friends to tourist sites and countries he doesn’t care about. His first trip outside the United States was with the U.S. Army to Vietnam, where he spent part of three different years. There he befriended an “old Frenchman” who talked to him about the place.

His passion for Africa was ignited years later when he saw some films about hunting there. It looked challenging. But the appeal has many facets – the expanses of land, the quiet, “tracking in the African bush and meeting the indigenous people who live out there” for whom hunting “is a way of life.”

photoAbout two dozen white tail and mule deer trophies are on display above the freezer cases. Photo by Karen West

Konrad said he hunts on government lands that are equivalent to our Forest Service lands, where the herds are managed and park rangers set the quotas on the number of permits issued.

The Safari Club promotes hunting and conservation by taking care of the animal populations, he said. It also sponsors anti-poaching teams. “Africa, right now, would pretty much be without animals if it wasn’t for Safari Club International.”

“Hunting is a positive thing for all animals because it gives them a value and without it, they’re gone,” Konrad said. “The trophy fee for an elephant can feed a village for a year, plus they get the meat.”

If he gets an elephant permit this year, Hank and Judy Konrad will make what he expects to be their last elephant-hunting trip to Botswana in August. The permits for where he wants to go may be auctioned off to some very wealthy bidders, he said, which could change his plan. That would be a bittersweet decision for a man who has tracked elephants up to 60 miles through the African bush that so strongly calls to him.

3/4/2013

People killed off the biggest mammals, and we’re still doing it

Human hunting and other activity — not climate change — drove the big mammals into extinction, researchers argue in a new study.

by Maggie Fox /  / Updated 

A ranger takes care of Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on May 3, 2017.AP file

Humans have been killing off the biggest game animals for millennia, and we’re still doing it.

A study to be published Friday in the journal Science argues that humans steadily drove into extinction the biggest land creatures, such as mammoths, rhinos and giant bears.

And human trophy hunting is still sending the biggest land mammals into the endangered zone, the researchers say, with little hope left for saving them from extinction.

Their new analysis contradicts arguments that climate change drove the extinctions of many animals, such as North American camels, several species of rhinoceros, the North African elephant and saber-toothed tigers.

If the trend keeps up, the cow, at around 2,000 pounds, may end up being the biggest land mammal, the team of researchers, led by biologist Felisa Smith of the University of New Mexico, argued.

Related

There’s no debate that as humans spread, big mammals declined. But some experts have said that the same climate, weather and geological conditions that killed off the big game allowed humans to thrive and spread.

Smith’s team did a new analysis, looking at the fossil record of large and small mammals and comparing it to what’s known about the spread of humans across the globe.

They found little evidence that climate was to blame for extinctions of big game species.

Large mammals were abundant as people evolved and spread, they noted. “For example, a striking feature of the Pleistocene was the abundance and diversity of extremely large mammals such as the mammoth, giant ground sloth, woolly rhinoceros, and saber tooth tiger on all habitable continents,” they wrote.

And, they also found, large and small mammals were both affected by changes in average temperature.

Related

Yet the big extinction events mostly affected the really big animals.

“If climate were causing this, we would expect to see these extinction events either sometimes (diverging from) human migration across the globe or always lining up with clear climate events in the record,” Kate Lyons of the University of Nebraska, who worked on the study team, said in a statement. “And they don’t do either of those things.”

It’s still going on.

“Wild mammals are in decline globally because of a lethal combination of human-mediated threats, including hunting, introduced predators and habitat modification,” the researchers wrote.

It’s no surprise, said Lyons.

“From a life-history standpoint, it makes some sense. If you kill a rabbit, you’re going to feed your family for a night. If you can kill a large mammal, you’re going to feed your village,” she said.

And people do prefer to kill the biggest animals, whether for food or for glory. “It just seems to be something that we do,” she said.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/people-killed-biggest-game-we-re-still-doing-it-n867621

Trump’s Wildlife Protection Board Stuffed With Trophy Hunters

(AP) — A new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos is stacked with trophy hunters, including some members with direct ties to President Donald Trump and his family.

A review by The Associated Press of the backgrounds and social media posts of the 16 board members appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke indicates they will agree with his position that the best way to protect critically threatened or endangered species is by encouraging wealthy Americans to shoot some of them.

One appointee co-owns a private New York hunting preserve with Trump’s adult sons. The oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., drew the ire of animal rights activists after a 2011 photo emerged of him holding a bloody knife and the severed tail of an elephant he killed in Zimbabwe.

The first meeting of the International Wildlife Conservation Council was scheduled for Friday at the Interior Department’s headquarters in Washington. Council members aren’t being paid a salary, though the department has budgeted $250,000 in taxpayer funds for travel expenses, staff time and other costs.

Trump has decried big-game hunting as a “horror show” in tweets. But under Zinke, a former Montana congressman who is an avid hunter, the Fish and Wildlife Service has quietly moved to reverse Obama-era restrictions on bringing trophies from African lions and elephants into the United States.

Asked about the changes during a congressional hearing Thursday, Zinke said no import permits for elephants have been issued since the ban was lifted earlier this month. The Fish and Wildlife Service said permits for lion trophies have been issued since October, when imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia were first allowed, though they could not immediately provide a number for how many.

A licensed two-week African hunting safari can cost more than $50,000 per person, not including airfare, according to advertised rates. Advocates say money helps support habitat conservation and anti-poaching efforts in some of the world’s poorest nations, and provides employment for local guides and porters.

In a statement last year, Zinke said, “The conservation and long-term health of big game crosses international boundaries. This council will provide important insight into the ways that American sportsmen and women benefit international conservation from boosting economies and creating hundreds of jobs to enhancing wildlife conservation.”

But environmentalists and animal welfare advocates say tourists taking photos generate more economic benefit, and hunters typically target the biggest and strongest animals, weakening already vulnerable populations.

There’s little indication dissenting perspectives will be represented on the Trump administration’s conservation council. Appointees include celebrity hunting guides, representatives from rifle and bow manufacturers, and wealthy sportspeople who boast of bagging the coveted “Big Five” — elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo.

Most are high-profile members of Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association, groups that have sued the Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the list of countries from which trophy kills can be legally imported.

They include the Safari Club’s president, Paul Babaz, a Morgan Stanley investment adviser from Atlanta, and Erica Rhoad, a lobbyist and former GOP congressional staffer who is the NRA’s director of hunting policy.

Bill Brewster is a retired Oklahoma congressman and lobbyist who served on the boards of the Safari Club and the NRA. An NRA profile lauded Brewster and his wife’s five decades of participation and support for hunting, and his purchase of a lifetime NRA membership for his grandson when the boy was 3 days old.

Also on the board is Gary Kania, vice president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, a group that lobbies Congress and state governments on issues affecting hunters and fishermen.

Zinke described the purpose of the council as representing the “strong partnership” between federal wildlife officials and those who hunt or profit from hunting. Council paperwork said the panel’s mission was “to increase public awareness domestically regarding conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and economic benefits that result from United states citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting.”

In its charter, the council’s listed duties include “recommending removal of barriers to the importation into the United States of legally hunted wildlife” and “ongoing review of import suspension/bans and providing recommendations that seek to resume the legal trade of those items, where appropriate.”

In a letter this week, a coalition of more than 20 environmental and animal welfare groups objected that the one-sided makeup of the council could violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires government boards to be balanced in terms of points of view and not improperly influenced by special interests. The groups said they nominated a qualified representative, but Zinke didn’t select him.

“If Trump really wants to stop the slaughter of elephants for trophies, he should shut down this biased, thrill-kill council,” said Tanya Sanerib, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The administration can’t make wise decisions on trophy imports if it only listens to gun-makers and people who want to kill wildlife.”

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said the makeup of the council fully complies with the law.

“There are members on the council that represent all areas of conservation and varying opinions,” Swift said.

CONNECTIONS TO TRUMP

Among Zinke’s appointees is Steven Chancellor, a longtime Republican fundraiser and chairman of American Patriot Group, an Indiana-based conglomerate that includes a company that supplies Meals Ready to Eat to the U.S. military.

According to Safari Club member hunting records obtained in 2015 by the Humane Society, Chancellor has logged nearly 500 kills — including at least 18 lions, 13 leopards, six elephants and two rhinos.

In early 2016, records show Chancellor filed for a federal permit to bring home the skin, skull teeth and claws from another male lion he intended to kill that year in Zimbabwe, which at the time was subject to an import ban imposed by the Obama administration.

Later that same year, Chancellor hosted a private fundraiser for then-candidate Trump and Mike Pence at his Evansville, Indiana, mansion, where the large security gates leading up the driveway feature a pair of gilded lions.

Chancellor did not respond to a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.

In the fight to win approval for imports of lions from Zimbabwe, Chancellor was represented by Conservation Force, a non-profit law firm in Louisiana. It was founded by John Jackson III, a lawyer and past Safari Club president who also has been appointed to the advisory council by Zinke.

Chris Hudson, a lawyer and past president of the Dallas chapter of the Safari Club, also was appointed. He made headlines in 2014 when the club auctioned off a permit for $350,000 to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia. Hudson later joined with Jackson in providing legal representation to the winning bidder, who sued Delta after the airline refused to fly the rhino’s carcass back to the United States.

‘HUNTING LIFESTYLE’

Appointees include professional hunters. Peter Horn is an ex-vice president of the Safari Club International Conservation Fund and a vice president for high-end gun-maker Beretta. He runs the company’s boutique in Manhattan, where well-heeled clients can drop as much as $150,000 for a hand-engraved, custom-made shotgun.

Horn wrote in his 2014 memoir that he co-owns a hunting property in upstate New York with Trump Jr. that has a 500-yard range “put together” by Eric Trump.

The AP reported last month that the Trump sons were behind a limited-liability company that purchased a 171-acre private hunting range in the bucolic Hudson Valley in 2013, complete with a wooden tower from which owners and their guests shoot at exploding targets.

Horn did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Trump Jr. also is friendly with another member of the advisory council — hunting guide and TV show personality Keith Mark. He helped organize Sportsmen for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and recently posted photos on his Twitter page of himself with Trump Jr. and Zinke, standing before an array of mounted big-horn sheep and a bear.

“I see the world from a hunting lifestyle,” Mark told the AP, adding that he has no preconceived agenda for his service on the conservation council. “It’s the most pure form of hands on conservation that there is. I will approach all decision-making with my background.”

Also named to the board is Cameron Hanes, a celebrity archer who advocates for trophy hunting. In a podcast last month, he said hunting allows animals such as elephants to “have value.”

But while supportive of African trophy hunting as an aid to conservation, he said he is more interested in North American wildlife management and sees the council as a way to represent hunters’ interests. He said he hopes to take Zinke out to the archery range.

“We’re trying to make that happen,” he said. “If you have somebody’s ear, you want to tell them what’s important to you.”

Hanes also said he knows Trump Jr. and has been speaking with him about hunting for “quite a while.”

EXTREME HUNTRESS

Also on the council is Olivia Opre, a TV personality and former Miss America contestant who received Safari Club’s top prize for female hunters, the Diana Award.

Opre, who co-produces a competition called Extreme Huntress, has killed about 90 different species on six continents, bringing home some 150 animal carcasses. Many are stuffed and mounted in her house, she told the British newspaper The Telegraph in 2016.

“I’m tired of hearing the words ‘trophy hunter’,” she told the paper. “We’re helping to preserve wildlife; we hunt lions because we want to see populations of wildlife continue to grow.”

Opre, who did not respond to messages seeking comment, has previously recounted killing a hippo, buffalo, black rhino and lion, all in Africa.

She said in the NRA’s Women’s Leadership Form newsletter published last year that she and another Diana Award winner, Denise Welker, had “shed tears over her appreciation for life in all its forms.”

Welker also has been appointed to the conservation council. She shot and killed an African elephant from just five paces away, according to a blog post on the Safari CIub-affiliated site, Hunt Forever. Included was a photo of a smiling Welker posing next to the carcass of the big bull, a large bullet hole visible between its eyes.

She also has hunted animals across the U.S., in Mexico, New Zealand and Cameroon, posting photos of herself with a dead leopard, eland and Greenland musk ox, according to a post she wrote on Hunt Forever three years ago.

On the website scout.com, Gayne Young wrote that he hunted elephants with Denise, her husband, Brian, and hunter and tracker Ivan Carter in Botswana in 2013.

Carter — a British citizen who runs a non-profit anti-poaching initiative alongside his guide business — also was appointed to the conservation council. He is a Rhodesian-born professional hunting guide who resides in the Bahamas. On social media postings, he has said banning elephant imports does not reduce how many elephants are hunted, and wrote an article after the infamous shooting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe declaring that anti-hunting forces were on the march.

“This event and the subsequent events have been the ‘Twin Towers’ of the hunting world — our 9-11,” he wrote in a 2016 article, deploring airlines’ move to stop accepting hunting trophies as air cargo. He proposed fighting back in a war of public opinion, with hunters as infantrymen, organizations like Safari Club International as generals and the pro-hunting media as “a machine gun that can spew thousands of bullets into the opposition’s fighting force.”

In an interview with AP on Thursday, he described himself as a conservationist first and a hunter second. He said he did not have a problem with the council’s membership skewing toward trophy hunters.

“They are what makes the wheel turn in the form of bringing big dollars” to conservation, he said. Without trophy-hunting revenue, the governments of African nations will turn over conservation land to private interests for development, he said.

“The business model doesn’t work with the closure of lion and elephant imports,” he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service declined to provide information on Thursday on whether any appointees to the advisory committee had applied for or received import permits for animal trophies over the last year. Agency spokesman Gavin Shire suggested filing a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of the permits, a process that can take years.

ANIMAL EXPERTS

One of two non-hunters named to the board is Terry Maple, a former director of the Atlanta zoo. Legally importing rare live animals also requires government permits issued by Fish and Wildlife. Maple helped write “A Contract with the Earth,” a book by Newt Gingrich making the politically conservative case for environmentalism.

The other is Jenifer Chatfield, a zoo and wildlife veterinarian professor who has family ties to the exotic animal trade.

The book “Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species” accused her father, John Chatfield, of diverting zoo animals to the private market, where they would become pets or stock private hunting ranches.

In one 1997 instance — reported by the AP — the elder Chatfield ended up in possession of endangered lemurs and pronghorn antelopes that were to have gone to a zoo in Indiana. Simultaneously, Chatfield listed lemurs and pronghorn antelope for sale in a publication called “Animal Finders.”

An investigation of the zoo director’s activities resulted in his expulsion from the American Zoological Association. Chatfield denied any wrongdoing at the time. He did not respond to a request for comment from the AP on Thursday.

The Chatfield family since has moved to Dade City, Florida, where they operate a facility housing nearly 200 exotic animals that state business records show Jenifer partly owns. In 2013, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials cited the farm for improperly storing kangaroos after one escaped, then died after being tranquilized and shocked by sheriff’s deputies. According to the state’s report, Chatfield initially denied that the kangaroo was his — but accepted responsibility after the fish and wildlife inspector proposed DNA testing. The inspector noted that Chatfield was unable to say how many kangaroos he currently had.

Though Jenifer Chatfield is a part owner of the exotic animal facility and was present at the time of the kangaroo escape, state wildlife officials did not cite her for a violation along with her father.

She did not return messages seeking comment.

Pearson reported from New York.

Follow Associated Press investigative reporters Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck , Pearson at http://twitter.com/JakePearsonAP and Horwitz at http://twitter.com/JeffHorwitz

Big-game documentary Trophy hunts for answers but comes back empty-handed

Photo: The Orchard

Which sounds more painful to watch, for those sensitive to animal suffering: a deer being shot for sport, or a rhinoceros being forcibly held down and having its horn sawed off? Trophy, a documentary about the uneasy, seemingly oxymoronic junction of big-game hunting and conservation efforts, kicks off by showing both of these events, and speedily reveals that neither situation is as clear-cut as it might initially seem. The group of folks who mutilate the rhino do so in an effort to save its life—the amputation is painless (no different, really, than clipping one’s fingernail; both are made of keratin), and the animal, until its horn grows back, is theoretically of no value to the poachers who would otherwise kill it. Such measures are financed, in large part, by hunters like Philip Glass (not the minimalist composer), who pay enormous sums in order to travel to Africa and bag “the big five”: elephant, lion, leopard, cape buffalo, and rhino. Is it acceptable to let rich people kill a few animals for “fun” if their cash might potentially save many others?

Trophy ostensibly maintains a neutral point of view, allowing people on both sides of various issues to make their best case. Some of their arguments will fall on deaf ears. John Hume, the man leading the team that de-horns rhinos, argues strenuously throughout the film that bans on the sale of ivory should be lifted, because they ultimately hurt rhinos more than they help them; he spends a lot of time being yelled at by angry protestors. Glass, meanwhile, justifies his love of hunting by quoting scripture (specifically a passage in Genesis about God giving human beings dominion over the animals) and brags that no bureaucrat can take his pleasure in a kill away from him. (He also insists that only a fool would believe in evolution, just to burn one last bridge with a certain cross-section of viewers.) Various other interview subjects come and go, without any individual ever really attaining a position of authority. This approach is at once admirable and frustrating, acknowledging complexity to a degree that amounts to a big shrug.

Indeed, Trophy’s tendency to wander is its greatest liability. There’s some digressive outrage directed at what are called “canned hunts,” in which the animal to be shot has essentially been pre-captured and remains confined in a small area, with no real chance of escape. There are legitimate reasons to decry this practice (though the notion that it’s “not sporting” seems a tad silly—the human having a rifle that can kill at a great distance isn’t exactly sporting either), but the issue is tangential at best to Trophy’s larger concerns, and feels like a cul-de-sac from which the film emerges with great clumsiness. It’s also slightly unfortunate—though admittedly no fault of director Shaul Schwarz (assisted by Christina Clusiau)—that Trophy covers a lot of the same ground as did recent Netflix documentary The Ivory Game. This film is more rhinocentric, with elephants and their tusks addressed fleetingly by comparison, but the battle against poachers and the free market is similar enough to make one doc fairly redundant if you’ve seen the other. What’s abundantly clear is that every other species on Earth is at our mercy, and that there are no easy answers when it comes to determining the most compassionate form of our so-called dominion.

https://www.avclub.com/big-game-documentary-trophy-hunts-for-answers-but-comes-1800010236