May 23, 2004, VANCOUVER – The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) has written US President George W. Bush asking him to not allow the proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The amendments pertain to the Draft Policy for Enhancement-of-Survival Permits for Foreign Species listed under the ESA. The purpose of the Draft Policy is to allow the import of foreign-listed species, their parts and products if this action enhances the survival of the species in the wild. Foreign sustainable use programs for endangered species often fail.


“If the proposed amendments to the ESA are permitted, animals and the environment will suffer,” states Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director. “Legal trade in endangered wildlife will likely increase the amount of poaching rather than having the desired effect of stemming illegal trade. A good example is the resumption of the legal trade in ivory by some countries has resulted in an increase in elephant poaching in Kenya. There is nothing within the proposed changes that would set any guidelines for customs officials to differentiate between legally ranched animal parts and products and illegally poached wildlife.”


The Humane Society of Canada has historically supported carefully structured ecotourism as a sustainable use of wildlife. From a practical standpoint, having tourists support a developing nation’s economy by paying to watch the same wild animal or bird over and over, instead of someone paying to kill an animal, makes good business and conservation sense. For example, during his/her lifetime, a single elephant can generate more than US $ 1 million through ecotourism.

The Humane Society of Canada is also concerned about the effect the Draft Policy will have on trans-national migratory species.

“Nothing in the proposal helps endangered sea turtles,” points out HSC Executive Director Michael O’Sullivan. “Thousands of sea turtles are bred in captivity in the Cayman Islands; however, they don’t survive in the wild. One of the conservation measures that was successful in rebuilding wild sea turtle populations was the ban on international trade. We are also concerned that this policy change will increase the level of smuggling – an activity that has been linked to terrorism,” warns O’Sullivan.

In the past, posing as a wildlife smuggler, O’Sullivan led a dangerous undercover mission into Angola where rebels offered to sell 2 metric tonnes of ivory. INTERPOL says that the illegal sale of drugs, weapons and endangered species pose a threat, and estimates that wildlife traffickers alone reap over US $ 10 billion a year from the misery they cause wild animals and birds.

The Humane Society of Canada is pleased with the United States’ Endangered Species Act and doesn’t want to see it weakened. According to O’Sullivan: “The current USA ESA is one of the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species enacted by a country and we would hope that this Draft Policy, the effect of which is to undermine the effectiveness of the ESA and promote the trade in endangered species by American citizens, will not be passed.”

“Repeated federal government surveys have shown that over 95% of Canadians support the protection and not the killing of wild animals. We’re asking our neighbours to the south to work with us on these important issues of global concern,” said O’Sullivan.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at via twitter at and on Facebook at:

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

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