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Illinois bill proposes ban on lion meat

Roaring stomachs may not be able to satisfy their hunger with lion meat as a proposed bill plans to make the sale of meat from the king of the jungle illegal in Illinois.

The bill, filed in February and sponsored by state Rep. Luis Arroyo, was assigned to Illinois' Agriculture & Conservation Committee Thursday and would make Illinois the first U.S. state to place a ban on lion meat.

The bill would make it illegal "for any person to slaughter a lion or for any person to possess, breed, import or export from this State, buy, or sell lions for the purpose of slaughter." It also declares commercializing lion meat unlawful.

Violators of this law could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. 

The sale of lion meat caused a controversy in 2010 for an Arizona restaurant, which bought 10 pounds of frozen meat from Czimer's Game & Sea Foods in Illinois.

No law currently prohibits the sale of this animal meat, as lions are not currently protected as an endangered cat in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however, began a study to determine if the animal should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. 

African lion populations have seen "a substantial decline" over the past two decades and are estimated to be around 32,000, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which monitors species numbers globally.

The threats include not only trophy hunters, but loss of habitat, humans eating lion meat, and commercial sale of their body parts, said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA.