Background: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is aware of confusion and miscommunication regarding the import of sport-hunted trophies that are subject to quotas under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Service wishes to remind the trade that under U.S. CITES regulations at 50 CFR Part 23, CITES specimens must be appropriately marked and be accompanied by valid original CITES documents. These CITES regulations, revised in 2007, incorporate CITES resolutions affecting international trade in sport-hunted trophies and are not new requirements. In addition, the special rule for the African elephant under the Endangered Species Act provides for CITES marking requirements. The Service has encountered problems with CITES specimens subject to quotas and marking including leopard, Nile crocodile and African elephant.
Leopard tagging requirements for skins and mounted sport-hunted trophies:
- Each raw or tanned skin must have a self-locking tag inserted through the skin and permanently
locked in place using the locking mechanism of the tag. The tag must indicate the country of
origin, the number of the specimen in relation to the annual quota, and the calendar year in which
the specimen was taken in the wild.
A mounted sport-hunted trophy must be accompanied by the tag from the skin used to make the
African elephant tusk marking requirements:
- The trophy (tusks) must be legibly marked by means of punch dies including: Country of origin
using ISO codes followed by the last two digits of the year of registration and the weight of raw
ivory to the nearest kilogram. Any mark must be placed on the lip mark area and indicated by a
flash of color which serves as a background for such mark.
Nile crocodile tagging requirements for skins and mounted sport-hunted trophies:
Each raw or tanned skin must have a non-reusable tag inserted through the skin and locked in
place using the locking mechanism of the tag. The tag must be permanently stamped with the
two-letter ISO code for the country of origin, a unique serial number, a standardized species code,
and the year of production or harvest.
- A mounted sport-hunted trophy must be accompanied by the tag from the skin used to make the
The tag information or tusk marking as noted above must be recorded on the accompanying CITES
document. This information is generally placed in the description block or special conditions block of the CITES document.
In addition, for leopard and African elephant, the number of the specimen to be exported in relation to the current year quota must be shown on the CITES export document (in block 11 of the CITES standardized document). If the specimen was harvested and/or registered in a different year than the year in which it was exported, this information will be different than the information on the CITES tag or tusk marking.
If the permit is issued in a different year than the year of export, this information must reflect the year of export. Export quota information is not required on CITES re-export certificates.
Action: Sport-hunted trophies imported into the United States that do not comply with the marking,
tagging or CITES document requirements are subject to refusal of entry or seizure.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
703-358-1949; 703-358-2271 (fax)