According to a new nationwide poll, by a two-to-one margin, U.S. voters said they oppose trophy hunting. The killing of Cecil the lion has shined a spotlight on hunting for the purpose of acquiring parts of the killed animal as trophies, such as a lion head, which are usually displayed in the hunter’s home.

Additionally, 74 percent of responders oppose “canned hunting,” where animals like lions are bred and hunted in fenced enclosures for trophies. Two-thirds of Americans support listing African lions under the Endangered Species Act to give the species greater federal protections, and 64 percent support placing restrictions on trophy hunting of native animals such as bobcats and mountain lions. By more than a three-to-one margin, responders said that if they could travel to Africa, they would prefer to spend their tourism dollars in a country that prohibits trophy hunting rather than one that allows it.

These results come amid the release of a new report (PDF) by the Humane Society of the United States, which delves into Safari Club International’s awards program and reveals how it encourages wealthy trophy hunters to kill a large number and wide variety of endangered and threatened animals. The spotlight continues to be shown on the current state of trophy hunting with the premiere of MSNBC’s new documentary, Blood Lions, on Wednesday, Oct. 7, pulling the curtain back on the South African captive lion hunting industry.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS said: “The wounding and killing of Cecil gave Americans a glimpse of the ugliness of the trophy hunting subculture. Killing animals as a head-hunting exercise is cruel, colonial, self-aggrandizing, larcenous and shameful. The celebrating of the killing – as hunters sit or stand atop a bloodied yet majestic and often endangered animals—shows a profound detachment from the other species who share this planet with us.”

The HSUS calls on South African and American authorities to end captive shooting enterprises and to end the Safari Club International award programs that abet this form of globe-trotting trophy hunting of remarkable and rare animals throughout the world. SCI gives awards to its members for killing different groups of animals. The “Grand Slam Cats of the World” requires a hunter to kill four species of wild cat, for example, and the World Hunting Award requires a hunter to kill hundreds of animals. The African Big Five Grand Slam requires a hunter to kill a lion, an elephant, a rhino, a leopard and a Cape buffalo.

The survey was conducted by Remington Research Group on behalf of the HSUS from Sept. 23-24. The sample size was 3,668 and the margin of Error is +/-2.2 percent.

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