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OST-2016-0221 - Conservation Force and Corey Knowlton v. Delta Air Lines - Discriminatory Embargo on Transport of Hunting Trophies
Conservation Force and Corey Knowlton v Delta Air Lines, Inc.
OST-2016-0221 - Discriminatory Embargo on Transport of Hunting Trophies Complaint
Submitted July 19, 2016 | Re-submitted November 1, 2016
Conservation Force and Corey Knowlton bring this Complaint against Delta Air Lines, Inc. for violation of 49 USC § 41310. Delta is continuously violating § 41310 by imposing a discriminatory embargo on the transport of trophies obtained in licensed, regulated tourist safari hunts. Although Delta will transport hunting trophies from other species, it refuses to carry African elephant, leopard, lion, rhino and Cape buffalo trophies. Delta’s embargo violates § 41310, which expressly prohibits “unreasonable discrimination against persons, places, ports, and types of traffic in foreign air transportation.” This embargo unreasonably discriminates against federally-permitted Big Five hunters who wish to ship trophies back to the US, African countries who depend on licensed, regulated hunting as a conservation tool and primary source of operational funds, and lawfully-acquired Big Five trophies.
Complainants are a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization and an individual tourist safari hunter. Complainant Conservation Force was formed for purposes of conserving wildlife and wild places and represents the force of sportsmen and women who underwrite wildlife and habitat conservation and recovery programs in the US and Africa. Complainant Corey Knowlton contributed $350,000 to black rhino protection and recovery in Namibia. He hunted a black rhino on a license issued by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, an export permit authorized by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and an “enhancement” import permit issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Although Mr. Knowlton had all necessary paperwork authorizing the regulated black rhino hunt, subsequent export from Namibia, and enhancement import into the United States, Delta refused to transport his black rhino trophy.
Delta’s ban on transport of Big Five trophies has a chilling effect on US hunters because the trophy is such an essential and tangible reminder of the hunting experience. Delta’s statements about its embargo also conflate the lawfully-acquired trophies of licensed, regulated hunting with the contraband, which stigmatizes Big Five hunters and further dissuades them. Discouraging US citizens from hunting the Big Five will reduce the fees and benefits this hunting provides and will damage both the species and the rural communities living alongside them.
Counsel: Conservation Force, John Jackson, 504-837-1233
November 29, 2016
Delta Air Lines is in receipt of the administrative complaint lodged by Conservation Force on November 1, 2016. Inadvertently, Delta did not initially recognize the complaint as a formal complaint, and we write, pursuant to §302.6 of DOT's Rules of Practice, to respectfully request an extension and leave to file Delta's substantive response on December 2, 2016. A formal motion for leave to file will be included in Delta's answer to the complaint. The formal motion will include the circumstances of Delta's receipt of the complaint and how in the normal course such complaints are directly served on Delta rather than through its corporate registered agent. As such, it was not initially recognized as a formal third-party complaint subject to DOT's procedural and substantive rules. Delta's motion for leave to file and its answer to the complaint will be forthcoming as indicated.
Counsel: Delta, Kali Wilson Beyah
November 30, 2016
My colleagues Jon-Peter Kelly and Chris Walker forwarded your email regarding the Conservation Force Complaint to my attention, as I am handling the Conservation Force matter. Thank you for your email and for the opportunity to advise that Delta respectfully requests an extension and leave to file a substantive response on December 2.
Counsel: Delta, Kali Wilson Beyah
An extension until COB on December 2 is granted.
By: Sohum Karia
December 2, 2016
Nothing in the Complaint supports the conclusion that Delta’s business decision not to carry Big Five hunting trophies as cargo is a form of “unreasonable discrimination against persons, places, ports, and types of traffic in foreign air transportation” in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 41310(a). The Complaint fails for three reasons. Delta’s cargo ban on Big Five hunting trophies is not a form of “discrimination” within the meaning of the statute. Delta’s Big Five trophy ban is reasonable. And section 41310(a) has never been construed to prohibit air carriers from choosing what types of cargo they will or won’t carry.
Counsel: Delta, Kali Beyah, 404-714-0289