eBay targeted by animal advocacy groups Big Wildlife and Raincoast Conservation

By Barbara Kessler
May 6th, 2009
Green Right Now

Some wildlife advocates are incensed that eBay continues to allow postings for trophy hunts of lions, leopards, bears, wolves and other predators.

Big Wildlife and Raincoast Conservation have been urging eBay to stop postings for guided trophy hunts since February. The groups consider trophy hunting of carnivores to be unethical and fear that such hunts imperil animals that are already jeopardized by dwindling habitat and poaching.

But eBay has refused to stop the posts about trophy hunts for leopards (see picture left) and other predators, according to Raincoast Conservation in British Columbia and Big Wildlife, an Oregon group which represents a network of more than 6,000 wildlife advocates.

In a letter the groups received from eBay, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Tod Cohen explains that the global auction company has decided against restricting the sale of trophy hunts.

“eBay is an open marketplace based on the principle that anyone can buy or sell just about anything, as long as those sales comply with applicable laws and our policies…” Cohen wrote.

The only items that eBay restricts are those considered “offensive,” like Nazi paraphernalia, which is offensive to millions of people and also illegal to possess in Germany, Austria, Italy and France, he wrote.

In response, Big Wildlife and Raincoast Conservation announced Tuesday that they would continue the campaign against eBay and its ads for trophy hunts because they believe these practices are offensive to the wider public.

“Most people believe gunning down a majestic African lion for “sport’ and a trophy is offensive. Most people think killing a grizzly bear so that the animal ends up as a throw over Sarah Palin’s office couch is offensive,” said Big Wildlife’s Brian Vincent.

“Have the lives of Canada’s grizzly bears, wolves and other large carnivores become so cheapened in the eyes of the purveyors of trophy hunting that selling an opportunity to kill one is now as commonplace as trying to unload a used kitchen appliance or an autographed baseball on eBay?” asked Chris Genovali, executive director of the British Columbia-based Raincoast Conservation.

The groups maintain that people are concerned about the loss of predators in a world with declining wild areas, pointing out that predators are “keystone species” whose absence can trigger a cascading loss of wildlife and fauna.

“All the species we focus on serve important roles in ecosystems,” Vincent said. “Furthermore, we believe it is unethical and immoral to kill these animals for “sport” and trophy. Remember, these animals are shot ­ not for food ­ but to become a head on a wall or rug in front of a fireplace. These animals are killed for the thrill of it. We find that reprehensible.”

Polling in British Columbia has indicated strong public opposition to grizzly trophy hunting, Genovali said. “The ethical, ecological and evolutionary issues are compelling, but so is the economic argument ­ we did a study in ‘03 that showed grizzly bear viewing brings in twice the amount of annual revenue as the grizzly hunt.”

Genovali added that eBay’s argument to allow trophy hunt ads because they are legal is “a cop out – just because something is legal does not mean it is ethical or sustainable.”

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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.