MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For years Walter Palmer trophy hunted around the world, with few people outside his circles taking notice.
But on July 1, when he shot a male lion outside a Zimbabwe National Park, he became the center of heated protest around the world.
“This idea you can pay to go kill endangered animals is sick,” explained one protester outside Palmer’s Bloomington dental office on Wednesday.
On Thursday evening, Palmer’s attorney contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will begin an investigation into the matter.
Just days after the professional hunting guide who led Palmer to the lion was in court to face poaching charges, the Zimbabwe government asked for Palmer’s return to face similar charges.
Minister of Environment, Water & Climate in Zimbabwe, Oppah Muchinguri, explained, “I understand that already the processes have started, and we are looking forward to his extradition.”
Munchinguri was using some harsh words to describe Palmer’s hunting party. She compared it to an “organized gang” that takes advantage of the country’s cherished wild game. She went on to add that the hunt was “properly organized and well financed” to make sure it succeeds.
Munchinguri then mentioned an online petition on Facebook, adding, “Almost 500,000 people are calling for his extradition.”
But Hamline Law School Emeritus Professor, Joseph Daly said not so fast.
“I think the chances are very low,” he said.
Daly explained that rarely does this kind of crime rise to the level that would trigger serious consideration of an extradition petition. The United States and Zimbabwe have a treaty in place to process such requests. But Daly adds that it’s doubtful President Obama would push the Justice Department to grant the petition.
“The president doesn’t have to exercise his authority,” Daly said. “He can exercise discretion and say he cannot get a fair trial if we do this.”
Daly added that the Justice Department won’t even extradite Amanda Knox back to Italy to face another murder trial. It’s highly unlikely to think an infraction of an otherwise legal hunt would trump that level of crime.
So far, Palmer has not been charged with any crime.