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Cecil the lion's slay inspires push from local pols to protect wildlife

A photo taken on Oct. 21, 2012 and

A photo taken on Oct. 21, 2012 and released on July 28, 2015 by the Zimbabwe National Parks agency shows Cecil, a much-loved lion who was allegedly killed by an American tourist on a hunt using a bow and arrow, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said. Photo Credit: Getty Images

After sparking outrage, the killing of Zimbabwe's Cecil the Lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer is now inspiring local legislators to create new protections for wildlife.

Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) Thursday called for the African lion to be listed as "threatened" under the U.S.' Endangered Species Act.

"It's hard to imagine a world without lions, but that's what we'll get if we do nothing," Maloney said in a statement.

The idea was first proposed in letter from 44 congressmembers to the Department of the Interior in 2013. Listing the lion as threatened would make it illegal to bring carcass "trophies" back to the U.S., aiming to disincentivize American hunters from killing at all.

"The United States is the largest source of game hunters traveling abroad and paying top dollar to shoot these majestic animals," she said. "The outrageous killing of Cecil the Lion is just the latest example for why Fish and Wildlife Service should act immediately to add African lions to the Endangered Species Act threatened species list."

Another piece of legislation would bring the ban a little closer to home.

On Wednesday, New Jersey Assemb. Tim Eustace proposed banning the transport of endangered animals' bodies in Port Authority-controlled terminals, such as LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, cutting "off a link back to the United States for game hunters."

"Hopefully making it more difficult for these types of hunters to transport their 'prizes' will give them pause or perhaps even make them reconsider this type of inhumane activity," he said.

The Port Authority declined to comment.

Taking it a step further, Queens State senator Tony Avella took the opportunity for another push for his "Big Five African Species" bill, introduced earlier this year. The bill would put a statewide ban on the sale, possession, import or transportation of the bodies and body parts of African lions and four other species threatened by hunting.

"The recent story uncovering the cruel murder of the beloved Cecil the Lion is, unfortunately, yet another example of how legal hunting practices are actually encouraging illegal poaching," Avella said. "Since New York acts as a major transportation hub for international hunters, these prohibitions will be a big step toward protecting these threatened species."

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