Julián Castro's new animal rights plan takes on a favorite Donald Trump Jr. hobby

Cracking down on trophy hunting is one of several new policy proposals that Castro's presidential campaign put forward this week.
Image: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro visits the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 9, 2019.Eric Thayer / Reuters

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By Suzanne Gamboa

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro on Monday released a comprehensive animal welfare plan that includes a series of ambitious policy proposals, including making animal abuse a federal crime and cracking down on trophy hunting.

“Our plan to advance animal welfare is not only the right thing to do, but will improve people’s lives through responsible pet ownership and a more sustainable agricultural system,” the former Housing secretary said in a statement unveiling unveiled what he called “The PAW Plan."

Other top proposals in the plan include working to end euthanizing of cats and dogs and expanding protected U.S. lands to 30 percent by 2030, with a goal of 50 percent by 2050. He proposed creating a $40 million grant program to expand spaying, neutering and vaccinations for low-income pet owners, strengthening the Endangered Species Act, banning use of federal land for fossil fuel exploration and ending the import of big-game trophies. Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, is an infamous big-game hunter.

"Protecting these majestic animals must first start with repealing the Trump administration’s NRA loopholes that allow trophy hunting and enforcing strict penalties on the domestic ivory trade," the plan reads.

Castro said in his plan that his hometown, San Antonio, went from a place that killed the most pets per capita in the United States to no-kill status in less than a decade. Castro criticizes President Donald Trump and his administration in his plan, saying their response to climate change and ongoing declines in biodiversity has been to dramatically weaken the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

He pledged to appoint an Interior secretary who is not a lobbyist for oil and gas “but a conservation scientist committed to cleaning up Trump’s environmental disaster.”

“Trump values profits over people, individual fortunes over our collective future, and he is the most anti-animal president in our history,” Castro stated.

Castro, the only Latino candidate in the race, officially qualified Tuesday for the September Democratic debate to be held in his home state of Texas.