Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting Blog

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting Blog

DWR sees record fishing and hunting license sales during pandemic

Written by Rod BoamMarch 20, 2021Dan Lane reaches for a different fly while fishing on the Blacksmith Fork River last June. DWR said they found a record number of people buying hunting and fishing licenses this year due to the pandemic.

SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many Utahns to seek refuge in the many outdoor venues in State and National Parks as well as other outdoor destinations.

Jaxon Newman, 15 fishes from one of the bridges on the Wellsville Pond. Fishing Day will be this Saturday, June 8, and all of the public streams, rivers, ponds are open to anyone to fish.

With the large numbers of people flooding outdoors to find relief from the virus, Utah State Parks and other outdoor agencies saw a significant increase in their number of visitors.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources saw a record year for hunting and fishing license sales by those escaping to the outdoors.

DWR spokesman Faith Jolley said from March 2020 to February 2021, the DWR sold 222,124 combination licenses (which allow the holder to legally fish and hunt in the state of Utah), compared to 183,358 from March 2019 to February 2020.

A total of 417,883 fishing licenses were sold during the 2020-21 timeframe, an increase of more than 100,000 licenses from the year before

“A total of 417,883 fishing licenses were sold during the 2020-21 timeframe, an increase of more than 100,000 licenses from the year before,” she said. “And 68,265 hunting licenses were sold, up from the previous year’s 50,551 hunting licenses.”

DWR Wildlife Licensing Coordinator Phil Gray said this was the most licenses the agency has sold in one year, by far.

“There was a 10% increase from the previous year when, on average, we usually see about a 28% increase in license sales each year,” he said. “Hunting and fishing are definitely a great way to experience the outdoors and Utah’s wildlife, and we are glad so many people were able to enjoy these activities during such a difficult year.”

DWR also saw an increase in the number of people who bought fishing or hunting licenses for the first time: 167,000 licenses were sold to first-time customers, compared to 121,000 in 2019. July was the busiest month for total license sales. And fishing licenses saw the biggest increase overall — they surged 28% from the previous year.

Gray said they love to see more people discovering Utah’s outstanding outdoor possibilities.

“While some wildlife species require hunters to obtain permits through a drawing, fishing only requires a license that you can easily buy online, creating unlimited fishing opportunities for Utahns,” Gray said. “Everyone who wants to can go fishing any time of the year, and there are plenty of incredible areas and opportunities for residents to create lasting memories while fishing in our beautiful state.”

The increase in fishing and hunting license sales also bodes well for Utah’s fish and wildlife sector while providing a great way for people to relax and enjoy Utah’s natural resources,

Cole Combe who worked in the fishing section at Al’s Sporting Goods shows one of the many fishing fly’s they have in stock.

“License dollars are used by the DWR to carry out the division’s mission to conserve and protect the wildlife of Utah,” Gray said. “So, any time you buy a fishing or hunting license, you are helping conserve wildlife in Utah. That funding is used for projects like improving habitat for our various fish and wildlife species in the state, so that everyone can continue enjoying them for years to come.”

10 test positive for COVID-19 at Routt County hunting camp as local case total increases

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A hunting camp in Routt County recently experienced an outbreak of positive COVID-19 cases, county health officials confirmed Wednesday.

The camp had 10 confirmed cases, none of which were permanent county residents. Not being local residents, those positives were not included in the county’s total number of cases.

“They are here in the county doing their work,” Nicole Harty, the county’s permanent epidemiologist, said as she briefed the Routt County Board of Commissioners during a public health meeting Wednesday. “We know where they are and that they’re in quarantine.”

“(This) highlights again the risk; not cohorting and trying to limit your contact among people,” said Dr. Brian Harrington, Routt County Public Health medical officer.

“Hey, you guys can handle anything but maybe not COVID,” Monger said.

With rifle season ahead, the bulk of expected hunters is still to come, Harrington said.

A family event that took place in Routt County also had an outbreak of COVID-19, with five people there testing positive. A total of 16 out-of-county residents tested positive between the hunting camp and family event.

In the past two weeks, from Sept. 7 to 20, Routt County has added 11 positive cases to its total, not counting the 10 from the hunting camp. That translates to 42.9 cases per 100,000 people and puts the county now into the medium spread category, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There were eight positive cases from Sept. 14 to 20, with five cases in one day. Almost 400 tests were conducted in the past week.

Harty said the number of cases in a two-week period per 100,000 people is the best metric to compare what’s happening in the county to what’s happening elsewhere in Colorado.

Routt County’s increase in cases follows the statewide trend, Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith said.

“The trend in number of cases per day is increasing,” Harty confirmed. “We’re seeing things start to trend up, but not quite as high as things were at the end of July.”

Harty concluded the increasing positivity is a sign of more cases in the community, not just because more tests are being conducted.

“Sure, there was an increase in the number of tests that were done but not in a proportion of the number of new cases that we had seen,” she explained.

Routt County is now also at a C- rating for social distancing compared to its activity prior to COVID-19.

“I don’t believe it’s at a point where we need to be incredibly concerned about it and just notice what’s going on,” Harrington said.

Dr. Fritha Morrison, a temporary epidemiologist for the county, said the latest test results are likely the beginning of results from Labor Day. That will continue for the next week or two, she said.

Harrington was especially cognizant of the demographics of the positive cases from last week. As he noted, four of the eight cases were found in individuals ages 40 to 50, and the other four who tested positive were in their 20s to 30s.

“Contrast that to what we’ve seen in the weeks this summer,” Harrington said. “If this trend continues, it would be a concerning trend. It would emphasize there is a greater community spread and in more segments of our population.”

Another concern with the latest cases is the explanation as to how the disease was transmitted. As Harrington explained, there wasn’t much explanation as to how they contracted the virus.

“This would indicate increased community spread,” he affirmed. “But we’ve been here before. We know we can do better and be out of this.”

Despite now being in the medium spread category, the county is considering putting in a request with the state to be placed in the Level 1 category for the Safer at Home phase.

The lowest phase, Protect Our Neighbors means that communities that meet certain criteria have less stringent restrictions than under Stay at Home and Safer at Home, according to the state health department.

A transition to the Protect Our Neighbors phase would be based upon the county’s hospitalization and positivity rates. UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center has cared for a total of eight hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

An official decision from the county commissioners on whether to submit a request to join the Level 1 Safer at Home phase is expected this week.

Routt County only provides updates on its positive COVID-19 case count on Tuesday evenings through its online dashboard, then shares the data and analysis the following day with the three Routt County commissioners during a public health meeting. While the state updates its numbers when positive tests are received, county officials have stated there are no exceptions that will be made for early reporting despite having any new positive cases.

“The numbers alone do not tell the story, and public behavior should not change based on case count,” Robin Schepper with the Routt County Office of Community Engagement said in an email to Steamboat Pilot & Today. “We need to practice the Five Commitments to Containment regardless of the case count.”

Local hunter’s take on increase in hunting during pandemic

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) — Ahead of the opening of the archery and crossbow deer hunting seasons, one hunter said this hobby has always been important to him.

Josh Weltz believes the recent increase in popularity is yet another indication that the pandemic is driving more people into the outdoors.

“I know our Iowa Bow Hunter’s Facebook group has definitely exploded recently as far as member numbers, so I think a lot of people are starting to get more interested in the idea of spending time outside hunting, fishing, that kind of stuff,” said Weltz.

Weltz said more people have wanted to learn about where their food comes from and about harvesting large, long-term meat supplies.

“For me one big one is the relationship with the food. I know where my food is coming from, and harvesting that myself, the challenge of it, it’s difficult,” said Weltz.

He said that interest is naturally going to point those people in the direction of bow hunting.

“It’s a big rabbit hole you can go down, so there’s a lot to it. But a good place to start would be social media just to kind of get the base line for how you need to break into it.”

For any new or inexperienced hunters, Weltz wants to remind them to get proper tool training before hitting the fields this season.

Game wardens expect Covid-19 could produce a record hunting season

Game wardens expect Covid-19 could produce a record hunting season

With the cancellation or postponement of numerous East Texas events, some may now be turning to something not canceled.


Game wardens believe this hunting season could be one of the busiest on record.

A Saturday hunters education class in Gregg county includes several new hunters.

A trend that could be going up because of Covid 19.

“With all of the Covid-19 measurements in place, people are wanting to social distance themselves and what better place that outdoors hunting and fishing. We’re expecting a larger number of folks in the woods,” says Gregg county game warden Todd Long.

“Sales are through the roof. Never seen anything like it. Guns, ammo, accessories, magazines, you name it. People are just going crazy,” says Logan Green of Ark-La-Tex guns & more in Gilmer.

In 2019, Texas had the highest number of registered firearms, more than 715-thousand, according to the ATF. And lots of first-timers.

“My daughter decided she wanted to come hunting with me. Ready to go hunting, always loved the outdoors,” said Byron Eldridge.

“I really don’t know why, it just seems fun and i want to do it,” says daughter Kaitlynn.

“We’ve had a bunch of people come in saying they’re ready for hunting season to start because everything insides closed and stuff like that,” Green says.

Gun sales in the Texas appear to already be setting record highs based on statistics from the FBI’s national instant criminal background check system. And game wardens are promoting safety above all.

According to U-S Fish & Wildlife, Texas resident hunting licenses, tags and permits for 2020 are estimated at over 1-million-6-hundred -50 thousand.

DNR anticipates strong hunting season in era of social distancing

More hunters are expected to hit the woods this fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steve Ellery, president of the Pine River Sportsman Club in St. Clair, is ready for the fall hunting season. Waterfowl hunting is his mainstay, but he also pursues deer, he said

“I’m retired now, so I can go anytime,” Ellery said.

And while he does travel for hunting, about 80 percent of what he does is in or around St. Clair County. He goes to places like Harsens Island, but he will also be headed to the Upper Peninsula for some duck hunting with old friends.

“It’s going to be good to go back,” Ellery said.

Hunters will soon be returning again to Michigan’s woods and waters for fall deer and waterfowl seasons. And even as Michigan businesses continues to reopen, the Department of Natural Resources anticipates more hunters than usual participating this fall.

COVID-19 and hunting conditions

While hunting certainly lends itself to social distancing, COVID-19 has still had an impact. DNR staff were not able to start some basic maintenance until June due to restrictions, such as planting food plots or grading roads in state game areas, said Holly Vaughn, DNR public outreach and engagement unit manager.

“You might see places where the roads are a little rough or food plots are a little bit behind schedule,” Vaughn said. “But for the most part, things are looking really good for the hunting season.”

Berries, apples, acorns and other foods eaten by game are doing pretty well this year, she said.

“Turkeys and deer should have a lot of really good food sources this fall,” Vaughn said.

Sunlight reveals the iridescence of wild turkey feathers.

More hunters expected in the field

The turkey season this past spring saw a very strong turnout rising from 83,062 licenses issued in 2019 to 105,828 this year, and the DNR is expecting a similar response from hunters this fall. This could include a large number of new hunters heading out into the field, Vaughn said. This is a good thing, she said, but hunters should keep the possibility of a larger turnout in mind when interacting with others out in the field.

“New people out in the woods may not understand when hunting season start, or the ethics of sharing space with other folks in the woods and on the waters,” Vaughn said. “Be patient if you run into people who maybe don’t know the rules.”

Vaughn said new hunters should remember to wear orange so they can be seen by other hunters. They should be mindful of where they are pointing their rifles at all times and be certain there are no people or pets where they intend to shoot. New hunters should also plan on scouting out several good hunting spots ahead of their hunt in case someone beats them to “their” spot, Vaughn said.

A guide’s advice

Mike Zweng, owner of Alaska Adventure Safaris, offers his commercial hunting guide services in Michigan during the off season. He brings people through St. Clair County for deer and turkey hunting.

His said turkey hunting has been pretty strong the past few years.

“There’s just kind of been an explosion of them,” he said. “We look for the right day with the right weather and head out.”

There isn’t a high demand for guided deer and turkey hunts as most people do it on their own, but an experienced guide can help locate and interact with game.

St. Clair County doesn’t have as much state hunting land as some other places, but respectful requests to local landowners can open up some solid hunting spots, Zweng said.

“If a hunter can get out and see where some of the game is, and be nice and ask some of the farmers for permission to hunt their private land, that’s the golden ticket,” he said.

Hunters seeking to do this can use the St. Clair County equalization website to look up who owns a parcel of land, and introduce themselves.

“And if someone says ‘no’, say ‘thank you we understand,'” Zweng said.

Hunters should be careful not trespass, he said, because failing to respect people’s private property can close doors that otherwise may have been opened with a conversation.

Department of Wildlife Resources cancels some fall hunting events due to COVID-19

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – The Department of Wildlife Resources said some fall hunting events have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The DWR has not canceled any hunting seasons or fishing opportunities. Officials remind everyone that anyone hunting or fishing in Virginia must have a license.

While seasons are not canceled, some fall events have been.

The DWR released the following list of event cancellations:

Quota & Managed Hunts

  • Radford Army Ammunition Plant deer hunts (Series #211) has been canceled.
  • Land’s End WMA Hunts for dove (Series #610), deer (Series #222), and spring turkeys (series #415) have been canceled.

Youth Waterfowl Hunts

  • The youth waterfowl hunt on Hog Island WMA slated for October 24, 2020 has been canceled.

Field trials

  • All field trials on DWR Wildlife Management Areas through December 31, 2020 have been canceled.

CWD Sampling

  • Mandatory CWD Sampling in Culpeper, Madison, and Shenandoah Counties on November 14, 2020 has been canceled.

DWR’s Wildlife Management Areas remain open to the public, and active hunting on these areas will begin in early September and continue into 2021. For more information, click here.

Breaking news: Netherlands will close all mink fur farms by next year

August 27, 2020 1 Comment

The Netherlands, the first country to report a coronavirus outbreak on its mink fur farms, will close all such farms by March next year, two and a half years ahead of a previous deadline.

The decision, reported today by the Dutch national news service NOS, follows an outbreak on 41 such farms in the country, making them major hotspots for the spread of the pandemic. As a result of the outbreak, an estimated two million mink, most of them pups, have been gassed to death.

According to NOS, mink on the nation’s 120 remaining fur farms will not be preventatively culled unless new outbreaks occur, and mink on unaffected farms will be slaughtered for their pelts in November this year. Breeders are not permitted to restock and by March 2021 all remaining mink operations will be bought out by the government.

The Netherlands is the world’s fourth largest producer of mink fur, behind only Denmark, Poland and China. Today’s announcement will spare suffering for millions more animals who would have been raised and killed for their fur had these farms remained in business until the original 2024 deadline. The nation had already closed down fox and chinchilla fur production in the 1990s, so the closure of mink farms next year will end all fur farming on its soil.

We welcome the decision from the Dutch government, which couldn’t have come a day sooner. The pandemic has been a grim reminder that we need to change how we treat animals, especially those who are confined in small spaces on fur farms, factory farms and wildlife markets. All eyes are now on other fur-producing nations, including the United States, Denmark and Spain where mink on fur farms have also tested positive for the virus. With consumers, retailers and designers turning away from fur, there is no reason for any country to continue supporting a commodity that’s associated more with animal cruelty and less with fashion.

Born Free USA Calls for an End to Fur Farming in the U.S. in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

Photo by Dzīvnieku brīvība / CC BY (
Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is calling for an end to fur farming in the United States in response to outbreaks of COVID-19 on fur farms in Utah.

The presence of COVID-19 on U.S. fur farms is a serious animal welfare and public health concern. According to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 17, 2020, scientists confirmed the first case of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) in mink at two fur farms in Utah. The conditions on fur farms are typically extremely unhygienic, with animals kept in cramped, dirty cages – optimal conditions for the spread of disease among animals and, potentially, to humans as well.

SARS-CoV-2 infections in mink have already been documented on numerous fur farms in Europe.

Angela Grimes, Born Free USA CEO, says, “Born Free USA is extremely concerned about the developing situation in Utah – a situation that was all too predictable given the conditions in these facilities. As we have seen in Europe, the disease spreads quickly across fur farms. If it is on two farms in Utah today, there is a good chance it could be on ten next week, and moving into different states shortly after that.”

In June, authorities in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Spain killed more than 1.5 million animals on fur farms, concerned that the animals could harbor the illness and spread it indefinitely. With the virus now present on fur farms in the U.S. it is possible that U.S. authorities might follow suit and turn to killing animals as a means of controlling the spread of the virus.

“The animals currently languishing in fur farms in the U.S. will be killed either so their skin can be used as a fashion accessory or, possibly, to prevent the spread of this outbreak,” says Grimes. “In either case, thousands of innocent animals will pay with their lives and that is unacceptable. In the interests of animal welfare and public health and safety, fur farming must be outlawed. The U.S is now trailing behind other countries on this issue. The time to act is now.”

As Born Free USA’s 2009 fur farm report, Cruelty Uncaged, demonstrated, fur farms in the U.S. are significantly lacking in oversight and transparency. The oversight that is in place is governed by an inconsistent array of laws and regulations that vary from state to state. More than a decade on from the report’s publication, Born Free USA has discovered that little has changed or improved on U.S. fur farms.

This lack of regulations makes relying on existing laws inadequate for addressing the developing COVID-19 situation. Instead, U.S. authorities should look to end the fur farming industry; an industry that has come under fire in recent years as awareness grows among members of the public about the cruel conditions in these facilities.

“To truly act in the best interests of the animals and of people,” Grimes says, “fur farms should be shut down. The fur industry is a dying one, with more and more consumers making the compassionate choice to go fur-free. Now is the time to push for an end to this cruel industry once and for all.”

Duck hunters could be ‘shoulder to shoulder’ in North Dakota due to Canadian border restrictions

Other states close to the border are also bracing for a crowded season

Things might get a little crowded this hunting season.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding nonessential travel across the Canadian border for the near future, the fall hunting season may see some significant changes. Some states may see higher numbers of hunters this year and bird migration patterns may even be impacted.

Hunters who normally travel to Canada may be unable to this year, forcing them to possibly crowd into certain states.

Hunters who normally travel to Canada may be unable to this year, forcing them to possibly crowd into certain states. (iStock)

North Dakota is preparing for a surge of duck hunters, the Star Tribune reports. According to the news outlet, these hunters would normally travel farther north to Canada but may be unable to this year.

One hunter and wildlife ecologist who spoke with the Star Tribune said hunters in North Dakota could be “shoulder to shoulder” this season.

In 2018, there were reportedly about 17,000 licensed waterfowl hunters in Saskatchewan and 54% percent were nonresidents. American duck hunters reportedly outnumber resident duck hunters in other parts of Canada as well.


Fox News recently reported that the Canadian border will remain limited for nonessential travel until at least Sept. 21, which is right before hunting season is set to begin.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird manager for North Dakota Game and Fish, told the Star Tribune, “We’re expecting to take kind of the brunt of it,” in regards to displaced hunters. “We expect there to be quite a bit of competition for hunting spots.”


Fortunately, he also said the data shows it was likely a good year for “duck production.”

John Devney, senior vice president of Delta Waterfowl Foundation in Bismarck, N.D., told the news outlet that he’s received a high number of calls from hunters seeking advice for hunting in the state as an alternative to Canada.

South Dakota is reportedly not an option for out-of-state hunters as hunting licenses are only obtained through a lottery that’s now closed.


Some hunters are worried about the effect diminished hunting in Canada will have on duck migration habits. Some reportedly believe that reduced hunting pressure in Manitoba and Saskatchewan may cause the ducks to linger in those areas longer. Others, however, are apparently more optimistic and believe that the ducks coming to the United States won’t be used to avoiding hunters and will be easier to target.

‘Filthy bloody business:’ Poachers kill more animals as coronavirus crushes tourism to Africa

  • As the coronavirus pandemic halts tourism to Africa, poachers are encroaching on land and killing rhinos in travel hot spots now devoid of visitors and safari guides.
  • In Botswana, at least six rhinos have been poached since the virus shut down tourism there. In the northwest South Africa, at least nine rhinos have been killed since the virus lockdown.
  • “It’s a bloody calamity. It’s an absolute crisis,” said Map Ives, founder of Rhino Conservation Botswana, a nonprofit organization.
Orphaned rhinos are seen amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a sanctuary for rhinos orphaned by poaching, in Mookgopong, Limpopo province, South Africa April 17, 2020.
Orphaned rhinos are seen amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a sanctuary for rhinos orphaned by poaching, in Mookgopong, Limpopo province, South Africa April 17, 2020.
Siphiwe Sibeko | Reuters

Ryan Tate is supposed to be in South Africa right now helping to fight off poachers who hack horns off rhinos and kill elephants for their ivory tusks.

Like A Pro

But since the country announced a national lockdown in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Tate is stuck in the U.S. He can’t join his team out in South Africa’s wilderness and can’t meet with private donors in the U.S. for his anti-poaching nonprofit organization, which is seeing donations dry up.

“It’s a helpless feeling,” said Tate, a 35-year former Marine and the founder of VetPaw, a group of American military veterans who fight poachers in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa.

“Poaching doesn’t stop just because there’s a virus — if anything, it picks up,” he said.

Although poaching is not uncommon in Africa, poachers during the coronavirus pandemic have encroached on land they wouldn’t normally visit and killed rhinos in tourism hot spots now devoid of visitors and safari guides.

In Botswana, at least six rhinos have been poached since the virus shut down tourism. Botswana’s security forces in April shot and killed five suspected poachers in two incidents. In northwest South Africa, at least nine rhinos have been killed since the virus lockdown. All the poaching took place in what were previously tourism areas that were safe for animals to roam.

“It’s a bloody calamity. It’s an absolute crisis,” Map Ives, founder of Rhino Conservation Botswana, a nonprofit organization, said of poaching across the continent.

File photo of skulls of White Rhinos and the snares that have entrapped them stand as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle in South Africa to protect these majestic, gentle giants of the African bush.
File photo of skulls of White Rhinos and the snares that have entrapped them stand as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle in South Africa to protect these majestic, gentle giants of the African bush.
Ilan Godfrey | Getty Images

There are still rangers in the African reserves, but the loss of tourist vehicles in parks provide poachers a significant advantage.

“The poachers have been emboldened because the playing field is in their favor and they won’t have as many problems moving around,” said Ives, who has lived on the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana for four decades but is stranded in South Carolina due to travel restrictions.

Highly organized illegal poaching threatens to send black and white rhinos, elephants and other African wildlife into extinction over the next several decades. The black rhino population has plummeted 97.6% since 1960 and the lion population is down 43% in the last 21 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund. At least 35,000 African elephants are killed each year and roughly only 1,000 mountain gorillas and 2,000 Grevy’s zebras remain on the continent.

“They are professional and adept at running off with rhino horns in minutes and dodging security forces. They are masters at evading detection,” he said. “It’s a filthy bloody business.”

A cloth covering the eyes of tranquilised rhino is used by rangers to keep the animal calm during a large scale anti-poaching campaign launched in Kruger National Park on November 26, 2009 in South Africa.
File photos of a cloth covering the eyes of tranquilised rhino is used by rangers to keep the animal calm during a large scale anti-poaching campaign launched in Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Gallo Images | Getty Images

Since Botswana’s booming tourism industry collapsed because of the virus lockdown, Ives has seen an anecdotal rise in rhino and bush meat poaching incidents. His company is running short of cash as donations dry up amid the global lockdown, and that may result in reduced patrols as a result.

“We lost hundreds of sets of eyes and ears in the delta,” Ives said. “I’m sure poachers know this — they watch these camps closely and see tourism activity.”

Africa’s $39.2 billion tourism industry is also vital in funding wildlife conservation efforts across the continent.

Africa received 62.5 million visitors, creating 9.1 million direct jobs in travel and tourism sectors in 2015, according to estimates from the African Development Bank.

Funding from sources like national park fees and safari rides are vital to wildlife conservation in Africa.

But now people working in tourism are being laid off because of the pandemic and national parks that provide wildlife a safe place from poachers are losing revenue. All three national parks in Rwanda have temporarily closed, along with Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kruger National Park in South Africa.

“There’s a lot of people struggling in Africa, a lot of private reserves that have helped save a few species including rhinos,” said Tate. “Now they don’t have that ecotourism they depend on, it’s gone. There’s going to be a lot of damage done from this.”

There’s also a major concern that as the coronavirus harms African economies and sharply raises unemployment levels, people will become desperate for income streams and pursue poaching to make a living.

The rangers of the dog squad search a motorcycle taxi for pangolin scales or hunting ammunition in the Dzanga-Sangha Park, in Bayanga, on March 14, 2020. The 4 species of African pangolins are present in the Central African Republic and protected by law s
The rangers of the dog squad search a motorcycle taxi for pangolin scales or hunting ammunition in the Dzanga-Sangha Park, in Bayanga, on March 14, 2020. The 4 species of African pangolins are present in the Central African Republic and protected by law since 2019.
Florent Vergnes | AFP | Getty Images

Africa reported a 43% jump in coronavirus cases over the last week, according to Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization has warned that the continent of 1.3 billion people could become the next epicenter of the outbreak, potentially pushing 30 million people into poverty.

Conservationists expect that in addition to professional poachers killing more animals, countries across Africa will experience a massive surge in bush meat poaching by average people since it’s cheaper to kill animals for meat than to buy it.

“Why do criminals commit acts of crime? They do it because they’re desperate and it’s a quick easy means for money,” Ryan said. “Poaching is no different. There’s a lot of desperate people out there because of the virus and [poaching] will absolutely pick up.”

Locusts infesting East Africa could inflict significant economic damage