The Lacey Act – Why We Should Pay Attention

By African Professional Hunters Association

The Lacey Act, a conservation law in the USA, was enacted in 1900 to prevent hunters who illegally killed game in one state to transfer it across state lines and escape prosecution. Initially it was meant to address illegal commercial hunting, which, at that time, was decimating wildlife populations.  But it has since evolved into a more complex and varied law, that prohibits the import, export, transport, purchase, or sale of species when that action would violate state, federal, tribal, or foreign law.

Therefore, its reach extends to any and all illegalities that take place anywhere in the world. It is, however, only validated once the product of that illegality enters the USA. It is a law that many do not grasp with proper respect and regard as to its magnitude, scope and seriousness.

For instance, a hunter who breaks even the most seemingly minor of laws – maybe something as simple as leaving their paper license in camp instead of carrying it on their person – could only, within the country or state the violation occurred in, be charged with a minor game law violation or even just be issued a warning. But if an animal was killed on that particular hunt, and the hunter transports it across state lines or into the USA from another country, it is now, technically, a violation of the Lacey Act, with much harsher potential penalties – from thousands of dollars of fines on up to felony charges and imprisonment.

Therefore, all outfitters should ensure adherence to all laws in the respective countries they operate in.  Clients, too, should do their homework with regards to learning the laws about where they are going hunting, and what species can be exported/imported, as well as what information will be required on the necessary paperwork. Simple questions asked of those whom are offering hunts can prevent the possibility of the Lacey Act being enforced at the time of trophy import.

With the volume of posts in social media platforms increasing annually, hunting is far more publicized and scrutinized than it ever was.  Posts are of course important for marketing purposes, but they must illustrate an understanding of and adherence to the laws of the land the hunts occur in.

The Lacey Act is a good law that guides those that offer hunts across the globe to ensure what they are offering is within the boundaries of the law.  Failure to adhere to it will cause those that buy such hunts, a world of hurt, both domestically and internationally, in the courts, in the field, and in their wallets.

The best avoidance of such problems and insurance of compliance is for clients, when booking hunts, to seek reliable outfitters who are knowledgeable on these important subjects, and to ask proper questions and get to know those whom they book with. A know before you go approach. And outfitters and professional hunters who are selling hunts, must respect their clients and acknowledge that all their actions on safari, and on social media, extend far beyond the day the client leaves for home.

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