DALLAS—Animal-rights group PETA is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop a management hunt that scientists say would benefit endangered rhino populations both biologically and financially.

Against a torrent of death threats, DSC auctioned the hunt in 2014 on behalf of the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The auction generated a record $350,000. All proceeds were earmarked for rhino conservation in the African nation, and held in escrow pending U.S. approval of an import permit that would allow the hunter to bring home the taxidermy from his hunt. That permit was recently approved after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists confirmed the benefits to rhino populations.

Basically, the hunt would be used to remove an older, non-breeding, aggressive black rhino bull known to decrease productivity and increase mortality of its herd, while the $350,000 would fund law enforcement efforts to thwart indiscriminate rhino killing by poachers.

PETA’s lawsuit could postpone the hunt as well as the funding for rhino protection.

“Next time you hear about poachers slaughtering rhinos in Namibia, thank PETA,” said Ben Carter, executive director of DSC.

He explained, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed the biological and financial benefits of this hunt, and agreed the end results would be beneficial to rhino populations. Now it all could be stopped or delayed by a wrong-headed lawsuit. I hope rhino herds in Namibia can hang on a bit longer while we’re fiddling around in court,” he said.

“In news coverage of the suit, PETA even compares hunting to child trafficking, which is outrageous by itself,” added Carter.

During a public comment period opened as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s review of the import permit application, DSC sent a formal letter urging approval. The letter outlined the science and logic behind the planned management hunt.

However, Carter says, if PETA’s lawsuit is successful, Namibia can simply sell the hunt to a non-American, someone who isn’t affected by U.S. court decisions or laws. Namibia is allowed by international treaties to sell up to five rhino management hunts per year. In the past, its self-sold permits have fetched far less than $350,000.

About Dallas Safari Club (DSC)

Desert bighorns on an unbroken landscape, stalking Cape buffalo in heavy brush, students discovering conservation. DSC works to guarantee a future for all these and much more. An independent organization since 1982, DSC has become an international leader in conserving wildlife and wilderness lands, educating youth and the general public, and promoting and protecting the rights and interests of hunters worldwide. Get involved at www.biggame.org.