Michael Gove has moved to assure shooters that the UK government has no plans to ban imports from trophy hunting.
Speaking in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, the environment secretary described the decision as a “delicate political balancing act”. Following discussions with wildlife charities, Mr Gove called for a cautious approach to outlawing trophy imports.
Trophy hunting is often subject to campaigns from anti-shooters who want to ban it, but hunts are responsible for injecting funds into local communities and conservation projects. Trophy importation is subject to permits and government controls, as is the hunting itself.
However, since 2015 a number of countries – including Australia, France and the Netherlands – have implemented bans on the import of lion trophies, leading some MPs to pile pressure on the UK government to do the same.
Mr Gove remarked: “On an emotional level and on a personal level, I find it difficult to understand. But I also recognise that I’ve got to respect if there is expertise which says that trophy hunting, done in a managed way, can help wildlife overall, then let’s just test that.”
The CEO of charity Save The Rhino, Cathy Dean, commented: “Well regulated trophy hunting has a role in overall rhino conservation strategies.”