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Trump Admin. Again Lifts Elephant Trophy Ban

by Countable | 3.6.18

Update: March 6, 2018: The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has quietly announced that it will once again allow Americans to import the body parts of elephants shot for sport in African nations.

  • The agency, led by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, said that "effective immediately" it will consider issuing permits to import elephant trophies from African nations on a “case-by-case” basis.

  • In November, President Donald Trump tweeted: "Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal."

  • In December, however, an appeals court ruled the Obama administration did not follow proper procedures when issuing the original ban. The suit was filed by Safari Club International and the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association.

  • Interior Department Spokeswoman Heather Swift said Tuesday that Zinke and the president's positions remain unchanged:

"The recent FWS posting on the website does not break any promises. In response to a recent D.C. Circuit Court opinion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is revising its procedure for assessing applications to import certain hunted species."

  • Neither the Interior Department or FWS issued a media release about the decision, nor did they respond to earlier requests for information.

  • "The Trump administration is trying to keep these crucial trophy import decisions behind closed doors, and that's totally unacceptable," Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the AP. "Elephants aren't meant to be trophies, they're meant to roam free."

Read Countable's original story below.


Trump Suggests He’ll Enforce Ban on “Elephant Trophies”

UPDATE – November 20, 2017: Last week, the Trump administration said it would allow hunters to import trophies (stuffed or mounted parts) of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back into the U.S. But following an outpouring of bipartisan criticism, President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday:

Until it is finalized, hit Take Action and tell your reps whether you support repealing, or reinstating, the elephant trophy ban — because, clearly, your comments are getting through.

Countable’s original story appears below.

What’s the story?

The Trump administration will allow hunters to import trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back into the U.S.

In 2014, the Obama administration banned big game hunters from bringing the remains of elephants into the U.S. after Zimbabwe failed to show it was taking elephant management seriously.

The new policy, announced at a wildlife forum in South Africa, reverses that ban.

A spokesperson from the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) said in a statement:

"Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation."

FWS’ statement did not specify what had changed in Zimbabwe to prompt a policy shift; according to the Great Elephant Census project, the population of African elephants has declined by six percent in recent years.

Why does it matter?

While elephants are listed as endangered species under the international Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a provision of the U.S. law allows the government to issue permits to import trophies if there’s evidence that the hunting benefits the animals’ conservation.

In 2014, FWS said that elephant hunting in Zimbabwe, "even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species." Safari Club International filed a lawsuit at the time, and the hunters’ group celebrated the ban’s repeal.

"We appreciate the efforts of the [Fish and Wildlife] Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior to remove barriers to sustainable use conservation for African wildlife," SCI president Paul Babaz said.

The Elephant Project summed up the response of animal-protection advocates, tweeting:

"It's a venal and nefarious pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society, told The Washington Post.

"What kind of message does it send to say to the world that poor Africans who are struggling to survive cannot kill elephants in order to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it's just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?"

Days earlier, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke – a hunter himself - set up an "International Wildlife Conservation Council" to advise him on how to increase public awareness of conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and the “economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens traveling abroad to hunt.”

The new rule applies to elephants shot in Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2016-2018. It is unclear how the recent political turmoil in the region will affect the elephant-hunting policy.

What do you think?

Will repealing the ban put "much-needed revenue back into conservation"? Or is this a “nefarious pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up”? Hit Take Action, tell your reps, then share your comments below.

— Josh Herman

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: Kenneth Canning / iStockphoto)

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(413)
  • Ticktock
    11/16/2017
    ···

    Every action benefits Trump, his family, business, the Republicans or his cronies. Very little represents the wishes of the American people. I’ve ceased thinking that we have representation in Washington.

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  • Andrea
    11/16/2017
    ···

    I’m afraid this will increase poaching of these already endangered animals. It also personally helps Trump’s sons who are avid big game sport hunters. Proves once more Trump cares more about helping his family than being a part of protecting this planet and ALL who live on it.

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  • Donna
    11/16/2017
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    Now we are justifying killing an endangered species under the lie that it is good for conservation? At a time of daily reprehensible actions by this administration, this is beyond ignorant. I guess Ryan Zinke is dying to be the first on his block with an elephant head on his wall. Is he bored with the bison or American Elk? When will we start shooting Bald Eagles for sport? Do you need assault rifles for that? Good thing there are plenty on the streets in this country and they are easy to acquire. Today must be attack the planet day in the Administration -- first we are drilling in the Arctic and upsetting that ecosystem. Now we are shooting an endangered species for sport and bringing home the head to prove it. Spare me the justifications. There are none. Just when you think they couldn't go lower......

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  • littlered
    11/16/2017
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    This is nothing but irresponsible. Nothing beneficial can come from meaningless trophy hunting. Not only is it unsustainable, but it is plain greedy.

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  • Luke
    11/16/2017
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    Absolutely disgusting, this administration is absolutely nothing but an attack on the natural world for the show of profit and excess.

    Like (50)
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  • Kristen
    11/16/2017
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    This is unforgivable. Absolutely nothing about this action is of any benefit to anyone. Pure, unadulterated pettiness from our despicable traitor masquerading as president. This will drive elephants to extinction. We can and must stop this. Call to DEMAND that this be canceled immediately: 703-358-1980.

    Like (39)
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  • RadicalModerate
    11/16/2017
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    We should start hunting American elephants.

    Like (32)
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  • Brian
    11/16/2017
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    This is reprehensible behavior by the trump administration once again trump and the Republican Party has show how they regard the world around them.. they are just proving they are the party of hate and if we can rape and pillage then that is just the icing on our cake

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  • Evelyn
    11/16/2017
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    This is absolutely disgusting and a disgrace to the GOP. What part of endangered species is hard to comprehend?

    Like (24)
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  • Carole
    11/16/2017
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    When will this end?😡. I am so tired of this administration and the war (president Trump) and the war on conservation by them! It appears he wants to roll back anything that President Obama’s put into place. I guess we the people don’t count!

    Like (21)
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  • Mary anne
    11/16/2017
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    Do not let him take that ban off elephants. This is insane ! The man is delusional.

    Like (21)
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  • Mary
    11/16/2017
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    This is a travesty and not where we should be going as a morally responsible nation interested in preserving life and our endangered species

    Like (18)
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  • Amy
    11/20/2017
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    I find it hard to believe that killing off an endangered species will aid in their conservation. The ban needs to stay in place.

    Like (16)
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  • Ann
    11/16/2017
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    So up setting! Ruining the planet. What a disgusting person this man and his family.

    Like (16)
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  • Katherine
    11/16/2017
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    Please do not allow this to go forward. It’s disgusting

    Like (15)
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  • Joanne
    11/16/2017
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    trump and his administration are a disgrace and a danger. A danger to human life, animal life, plant life, the life of this planet and everything on it. Why are we not in impeachment proceedings??? What are we waiting fro???!!! I am overwhelmingly angry and scared at the same time.

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  • Susan
    11/16/2017
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    This is so wrong and irresponsible. I would like to have one logical and thoughtful reason why this ban has to be overturned. This only satisfies the egotistical big game hunters who are looking for another stuffed head in their man cave. Shame on everyone who supports this action!

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  • Mindful
    11/16/2017
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    Trump ‘Policy’: If Obama did it, “I will get rid of it.” No sense of ‘continuity’ for good of Country. Childish immature..’get even.’

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  • burrkitty
    11/20/2017
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    Trophy hunting is deplorable. Do not support trophy hunting or the culture of toxic masculinity it reinforces. Killing creatures for amusement and trophies is disgusting.

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  • Bill
    11/20/2017
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    We need to keep the ban on! The population of elephants in Africa continues to decline and lifting the ban will only accelerate this “killing for trophies” horrible crime. Remember that this “hunting” is primarily enjoyed by the same wealthy jerks that are scamming to get even more tax breaks so they have more money to kill innocent animals as well as the Middle Class of America!!

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