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Exemptions

Protecting endangered species is important

Apparently, if you are rich enough, you can slaughter endangered species until your bloodlust is sated.

Among animals the federal government deems worthy of protection is the black rhinoceros. Only about 5,500 of them remain alive in the wild.

Namibia is home to nearly half that number, and hunting the animals there is restricted. But, under an international agreement, Namibia can allow hunters to kill as many as five black rhinos a year.

Of course, the law of supply and demand kicks in to enrich the Namibian government. One American hunter, Chris D. Peyerk of Michigan, paid $400,000 for the right to kill a black rhino. The money is supposed to go to a conservation fund.

Now, Peyerk wants to bring the rhino’s skin, skull and horns home. Government officials have said he will be issued a special permit allowing him to do that, despite a federal law that normally would ban such an import.

Apparently, the rationale for such an exemption is that the $400,000 Peyerk paid will do a lot of good in protecting black rhinos. Perhaps it will. Perhaps it will not.

Such exemptions are granted only rarely. It appears Peyerk’s would be the second approved under President Donald Trump’s administration. Three were given under former President Barack Obama.

So, the message is clear: If you have plenty of money to spend, go ahead and pull the trigger on that rare creature. If not, you’re out of luck.

That ought to leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who understand the importance of protecting creatures such as the black rhino. It could be eliminated easily, by Washington paying countries where endangered animals can be hunted in limited numbers more than those regimes would garner by selling permits. In the case of Namibian black rhinos, $2 million or $3 million a year ought to do the trick — with the provision that any sale of permits would eliminate future payments.

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