McCollum: Investigate lion killing

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-MN, wants an investigation into whether a Minnesota dentist broke any U.S. laws when he killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe.

“To bait and kill a threatened animal, like this African lion, for sport cannot be called hunting, but rather a disgraceful display of callous cruelty,” McCollum wrote in a statement. “For those of us committed to ending poaching of iconic African species I strongly believe the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should investigate whether U.S. laws were violated related to conspiracy, bribery of foreign officials, and the illegal hunting of a protected species or animal.”

The killing of the lion has sparked international outrage. Conservation groups have criticized Dr. Walter James Palmer of Eden Prairie for killing the animal. Authorities in Zimbabwe told the Associated Press that Palmer will face poaching charges.

Palmer issued a statement today saying he regrets killing the lion but believes he secured proper permits and believes the hunt was legal.

The 13-year-old lion named Cecil was a popular attraction in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The lion was killed on July 1 during a guided hunt that cost Palmer about $50,000, according to a report in the Telegraph.