Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; and Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requesting information on the Department’s decisions regarding the importation of wildlife trophies from African nations.

Carper and Duckworth also raised questions about the recently formed International Wildlife Conservation Council that is responsible for advising Secretary Zinke on the promotion of international wildlife hunting.

“As the department proceeds with its plans to loosen restrictions on international wildlife hunting and trophy importation, it has simultaneously populated the International Wildlife Conservation Council with trophy hunters and gun industry executives. As you know, this council is a new federal advisory committee within the Department of Interior that is charged with advising you on the promotion of international wildlife hunting. Because of the unbalanced interests represented on the Council, it could diminish the progress the U.S. has made fighting against international wildlife hunting and importing. Moreover, we are concerned that the Council may not comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that committee memberships be “fairly balanced” and that committee members “not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest.” However, all but one of the 16 members of the International Wildlife Conservation Council appear to be associated with Safari Club International or the National Rifle Association, involved in the hunting tourism industry, or have been involved in the commercial trade of animals.

In their letter, the senators asked for additional information regarding the department’s decision-making process and answers as to how the council will operate and carry out its duties by April 10.

The text of the letter is available at