News broke on Thursday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS) is considering two applications from big game hunters for permits to import rhino trophies into the U.S. from Namibia. One of the applications was filed by Corey Knowlton, the hunter who bid $350,000 for a chance to hunt a critically endangered black rhino back in January. The other applicant is Michael Luzich, a Las Vegas businessman.
When he first won the auction, backlash against Knowlton was swift and forceful. But hunters and safari outfitters pushed back, saying that hunting big game funds conservation efforts. While that theory has been largely debunked as an impractical way to stop rhino poaching for good, it seems that Americans aren't even buying this argument in the first place.
According to a survey conducted by the Beekeeper Group, an independent polling company, that vast majority of Americans strongly oppose hunting big game. The poll, commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, found that 80 percent of respondents opposed hunting elephants, 79 percent opposed hunting rhinos and 77 percent opposed hunting lions for sport.
What's more, 77 percent of Americans oppose raffling off permits to hunt endangered species in Africa.
One of the most interesting things the study found was that those respondents who identified as "avid hunters" often opposed these activities. Out of this group, 69 percent of respondents opposed hunting elephants, 69 percent opposed hunting rhinos and 65 percent opposed hunting lions.
Even further, 53 percent of avid hunters opposed raffling off permits to hunt endangered species in Africa.
The polling data was taken from 1,000 interviews among likely voters nationwide. The interviews were conducted online from September 9-12, 2014.
While Knowlton and Luzich may have the support of groups that advocate for big game hunting like the Dallas Safari Club, the numbers show that they don't have the support of the rest of the country.