International hunting council disbands amid litigation

International hunting council disbands amid litigation
© Thinkstock

The controversial International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), which gives the Trump administration advice on international big game hunting, has disbanded, according to a government court filing. 

The Friday filing on behalf of the Interior Department said that the IWCC "ceased to exist" in December when its two-year charter expired. 

"The Council will not meet or conduct any business again, it can no longer be renewed, and there [is] no plan to establish another committee with a similar mission or scope in the future," the document said. 


The IWCC was created in 2017 and that year the Trump administration also moved to reverse a ban on elephant trophy imports from Africa. 

Groups including the Humane Society, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit in 2018, arguing that the IWCC had a disproportionate number of pro-hunting advisers while federal law requires a more balanced mix of individuals.  

The groups hailed the filing as a victory in a Sunday statement.

“I have little doubt our litigation spurred the administration’s decision to abandon the IWCC and walk away from its biased and un-transparent practices,” said Zak Smith, the NRDC's international wildlife conservation director. “We’re glad the Trump administration is closing shop on this ridiculously misguided council and we await a full accounting of its tainted work product.”

An Interior spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the department "takes illegal wildlife trafficking seriously and will continue working to grow our partnerships, while continuing to move toward shared conservation stewardship.”

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told council members last year that he hadn't decided on a path forward for the group. 

“I know [former Secretary] Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeGOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund unveils first midterm endorsements Trump's relocation of the Bureau of Land Management was part of a familiar Republican playbook Watchdog: Trump official boosted former employer in Interior committee membership MORE spent a lot of time thinking about your appointment and he absolutely deeply appreciated your willingness to support it,” he said at the time. 

"We will make the best call we can based on where we sit, and you should view that as just an example of life in this day and age,” he said of the lawsuit at the time. 

Updated at 5:04 p.m.