Amid worldwide outrage at the killing of a beloved Zimbabwean lion, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW) is investigating whether Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer broke any US laws by killing Cecil.
Agency director Dan Ashe confirmed the news, first reported by Reuters, on Twitter:
The USFW is specifically investigating whether the killing of Cecil was a conpiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits trading wildlife or trophies from animals that have been illegally killed, transported, or sold, according to Reuters.
The US government has previously prosecuted hunters under the Lacey Act for illegally selling trophies such as elephant tusks, but it has also allowed the legal importation of hunting “trophies” from protected species such as the black rhino.
US investigators have not yet made contact with Palmer, who reportedly shot the lion with a crossbow.
The Minnesota dentist was convicted in 2008 of making false statements to the USFW about a black bear he killed in Wisconsin.