Fury has revealed that a ban on the importation of hunting trophies approved by MPs will not apply in Northern Ireland, allowing Ulster to become a ‘back door’ to Britain
- DUP MP was offended that Northern Ireland has been exempted despite 86 per cent of people in the UK supporting the ban
- The loophole means big game hunters can fly into Belfast with body parts before crossing the Irish Sea
A law banning the importation of trophy hunts was approved by MPs yesterday, but the move soon turned into a farce when it emerged that the rules will not apply to Northern Ireland.
Experts had warned that the plans would have disastrous consequences for endangered animals.
And now DUP MPs have claimed the bill would be drastically undermined by Ulster becoming a ‘back door’ for big game hunters to bring souvenirs to Britain.
It means they can fly to Belfast with a wealth of body parts before simply crossing the Irish Sea. The loophole was made possible by Northern Ireland falling behind in the European Union’s single market after Brexit.
The Hunting Trophies (Import Ban) Bill was introduced by Tory MP Henry Smith. Speaking at a debate, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: ‘To find a law supported by more than 86 per cent of the British population cannot be applied in any part of the UK is insulting.
Pictured: Cecil, one of Zimbabwe’s most famous lions, reportedly shot dead by American hunter Walter Palmer. DUP MPs have claimed the bill would be drastically undermined by the fact that Ulster would become a ‘back door’ for big game hunters to bring souvenirs to Britain
“It’s insulting to me and it’s insulting to millions of voters who wrote to ask me to support this legislation.” Conservation experts fear the bill will have a disastrous effect on endangered animals.
Together with African leaders and grassroots groups, they have called on Britain to allow certain trophies to be imported if the animals are proven to have been hunted ethically.
Income from selective hunting keeps the local population employed and funds patrols against poachers, the real enemy of conservation. The plans would ban imports of 6,000 endangered species, including elephants, rhinoceroses and leopards.
Environment Secretary Trudy Harrison welcomed the legislation, which will now be examined in the House of Lords. “Cecil the Lion didn’t die in vain,” she said, referring to the lion who was shot by an American dentist in Zimbabwe in 2015 in a case that sparked global outrage.
The Hunting Trophies (Import Ban) Bill was introduced by Tory MP Henry Smith. Speaking at a debate, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: ‘To find a law supported by more than 86 per cent of the British population cannot be enforced in any part of the UK is insulting’
But Tory colleague Lord Mancroft said: ‘It is clear that this bill evaded any meaningful scientific scrutiny or challenge by experts as it was rushed through the House of Commons. We are determined that this will not be the case in the House of Lords.’
Professor Amy Dickman, a conservation expert from the University of Oxford, said: ‘It is a bitter disappointment that MPs have succumbed to an emotional but ill-informed animal rights campaign. This law will kill more animals than save.”
Maxi Pia Louis, director of conservation organization Nacso, said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that the voice of Africa has not been heard. This bill will make African communities poorer for many years to come.”
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said “imports into Northern Ireland will be carefully scrutinized”.