Trump reconsidering elephant trophy ban reversal

By Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Nov. 19, 2017 at 5:30 PM
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Nov. 17 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Friday night halted the administration's plans to reverse a ban on importing big-game hunting trophies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday announced it would no longer ban the import of elephant parts hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The ban was instituted under the Obama administration, which determined it was harmful to the conservation of the species.

But that plan may be on hold, according to a tweet from Trump.

"Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with [Interior] Secretary [Ryan] Zinke. Thank you!" he said.

It's unclear why the president has ordered further review of the plan, but the FWS announcement garnered backlash from conservationists across the country.

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society, said the elephant population in Zimbabwe has declined by 6 percent since 2001, and residents of Zimbabwe and Zambia are prohibited from hunting the animals. He called lifting the ban only for wealthy hunters a "venal and nefarious pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry."

"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?" he wrote in a blog post.

The FWS said that allowing game trophies to be brought to the United States would help with conservation efforts.

"Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation," FWS said in a statement to NPR. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the hunting and management programs for African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia will enhance the survival of the species in the wild."

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