McCollum calls for federal investigation of lion-killing Minnesota dentist

Rep. Betty McCollum

WASHINGTON — The Internet exploded in outrage this week after it was revealed that a Minnesota tourist killed a beloved lion while on a hunting expedition in Zimbabwe. That indignation reached Capitol Hill yesterday, as 4th District Rep. Betty McCollum was quick to call for  justice for the protected African lion, fondly referred to as Cecil the Lion.

In a statement released yesterday, McCollum denounced the actions of Walter Palmer, a dentist from Eden Prairie, who may have paid as much as $50,000 to participate in the guided hunt in Zimbabwe. Palmer and his guides allegedly lured the lion out of a protected area in order to kill it, a move that critics, including McCollum, call illegal.

“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 said. Palmer says he was not aware that the lion was a protected animal, and regrets what happened.

McCollum, who serves as co-chair of the International Congressional Conservation Caucus, called for an investigation of Palmer. “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,” McCollum said.

She added that she would actively pursue a legislative path to protecting other endangered animals in Africa and elsewhere. Speaking on Minnesota Public Radio on Wednesday morning, McCollum said she is currently working on legislation to crack down on the poaching of animals for ivory.

Palmer, whose dental practice is based in Bloomington, appears to be an avid rare game hunter, and photos of him posing with dead trophy animals like cheetahs have surfaced online. Lions and other protected big game are hunted and killed regularly by tourists from the United States and elsewhere, according to experts.

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Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 07/29/2015 - 02:47 pm.

    Send him back to Africa for trial

    And why is a convicted poacher allowed to hunt anywhere??

  2. Submitted by lee wick on 07/29/2015 - 03:14 pm.

    A Lion?

    She should be demanding resolution on the IRS issues and Clinton’s e-mail stonewalling. A lion?

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/29/2015 - 03:44 pm.

      Yes, a lion

      As well as attention to the issue of Americans going abroad to hunt other endangered species.

      In other words, a real issue rather than a trumped-up GOP “outrage du jour”.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/29/2015 - 04:24 pm.


      spare us the GOP talking points. There is no stonewalling and the only groups that didn’t receive their tax exempt status were liberal groups. Maybe she look for Obama’s birth certificate as well?

      • Submitted by james lee on 07/29/2015 - 07:49 pm.


        U.S District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan today threatened to hold the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department attorneys in contempt of court after the IRS failed to produce status reports and newly recovered emails of Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, as he had ordered on July 1, 2015.

        Judge Sullivan thinks it’s stonewalling.

  3. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 07/29/2015 - 04:57 pm.

    Does Rep. McCollum….

    not have better things to do? This woman needs to be reminded that she represents people who elected her and not some animal rights group. As a hunter I think the actions of Mr. Palmer are reprehensible. However I think tax dollars can be spent better elsewhere.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/29/2015 - 09:05 pm.

      She was elected

      to uphold the laws of the United States.
      According to the article you’re responding to, she’s requesting an investigation to find out whether these laws have been broken. You do believe in upholding the law, don’t you?

  4. Submitted by jason myron on 07/29/2015 - 07:09 pm.

    A lot of people that elected her

    ARE animal lovers.

    • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 07/29/2015 - 07:50 pm.

      And this event….

      occurred in Africa where the US Congress has no jurisdiction. I think that the event is reprehensible but it is not something she should dabble in.

      • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 07/30/2015 - 06:54 am.


        Perhaps Oklahoma Senator Inhofe should stay home and not take regular trips to Africa. When there he pushes his pseudo-Christian views, while supporting dictatorships that have numerous human rights violations. He has no jurisdiction there.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/30/2015 - 09:37 am.

        United States

        But he brought the remains back to the United States, which has laws on the importation of the remains of endangered species. That’s why ivory cannot be imported.

  5. Submitted by cornelia griffin on 07/29/2015 - 07:42 pm.

    Cecil, the Lion

    It’s not either /or people. McCollum can deal with more than one issue at a time. Lions are endangered. If we don’t do something now they won’t be here in 25 years. We can all get behind this, Republicans, Democrats. This animal is dead and his cubs will be killed when a new male takes over the pride.
    This is the second lion this “hunter” has killed. he has 45 big animal kills to his record. He needs to be sent back to Zimbabwe to face charges of poaching and killing an endangered animal.

  6. Submitted by Elanne Palcich on 07/29/2015 - 10:02 pm.


    In this day and age, with major species facing extinction, Walter Palmer needs to be held accountable for his actions. I applaud Rep. McCollum for initiating some action on this issue.

  7. Submitted by David Therkelsen on 07/29/2015 - 10:10 pm.

    Dentist and lions

    Um…from all the coverage, MinnPost and elsewhere, it’s not clear to me that the dentist broke any law. Yes, he seems to have a shady past from the public record. But this particular indictment strikes me as premature.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 07/30/2015 - 07:23 pm.

      Lacey Act

      The FCPA and the Lacey Act. He traded in illegal species. Before you say he didn’t know. The moment he starts beheading the lion, are you telling me he did not see the collar ?

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