Here is the statement via email from the Congressman.
As headlines from here to Zimbabwe decry the senseless, ruthless and illegal slaughter of a protected and beloved lion named Cecil, it’s time to recognize the harm that political animosity towards conservation laws and animal protections is causing.
With the Congressional majority preoccupied with eroding the Endangered Species Act and making it harder to protect threatened species, those who destroy nature’s most majestic creatures and call it "sport" are emboldened and unapologetic. In fact, Cecil’s killer hired some slimy crisis management firm to put out a statement saying he "had no idea that the lion [he] took was a known, local favorite." Never mind that he hired trackers to intentionally lure Cecil off a protected reservation before killing him. Never mind that he has a track record of illegally killing large animals for the fun of taking their lives. Never mind that lions are well-known to be threatened.
The spin doctors putting words in the killer’s mouth missed the point behind all the public outrage though: If the lion was nameless, this killing would be no less reprehensible.
As Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, my fellow committee Democrats and I represent the last line of defense against Republican efforts to gut animal protections and further fuel the extinction of species that are just barely hanging on. I wasted no time demanding answers from the Fish and Wildlife Service in a hearing about whether this hunter had any part of the poached lion imported back to the U.S., whether we have restrictions on such importations for people with poaching convictions - as this man has - and what updates FWS could provide about protecting lions under the Endangered Species Act.
I’m proud to have introduced the Rare Cats and Canids Act to provide every resource possible to protect these magnificent creatures. I fought back as the GOP tried to use a drought bill as an excuse to weaken protections for endangered fish species. And I oppose their attempts - time and again - to make it harder to list animals on the endangered species list.
Species conservation should not be a partisan issue. It should just be common sense. The Republicans whose silence is deafening over the death of Cecil are ignoring the cries of outrage coming from their very own constituents. The American people passionately support the conservation of endangered species, and they deserve a Congress that does too.