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Delta joins airline ban on transporting big game hunting trophies

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The buzz surrounding the tragic beheading and skinning of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe has quieted, but the hunter who “took” the lion is probably still up there at the top of the most hated people on the Internet list.

In what appears to be a reaction to outrage over American dentist Walter Palmer’s illegal killing, Delta Airlines has announced it will no longer permit transport of some big game hunt trophies including lions.

“Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight,” a statement on the company’s website reads. “Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species. Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.”

Cecil the Lion was killed in early July when Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 for the hunt. It was later determined that the guides hired by Palmer baited the animal off the Hwange National Park where Cecil was a beloved animal locally and a popular tourist attraction. Palmer reportedly shot Cecil with a bow and then came back to finish the job the following day.

The two guides have been charged by authorities in Zimbabwe and officials are seeking extradition to charge Palmer as well.

The story shone a light on big game hunting practices. People were so enraged by the news Palmer was inundated with threats, negative reviews on his dental practice’s Yelp page and boycotts. Ultimately, Palmer had to close his dental practice.

Delta is not the first airline to ban transport of big game hunting trophies, but they are certainly the biggest name. They join a growing list, including Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines and Qantas.

It doesn’t bring Cecil back, but maybe it can help thwart future deaths. And while we’re on the boycotting issue, it should be noted that Jimmy John’s owner John Liautaud also enjoys killing big and often rare animals for fun. Just saying.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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