The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it will now consider permits for elephant hunt trophies from African nations on a “case by case basis” – reversing President Trump’s earlier promises to maintain a ban on the practice.
On Thursday, the FWS issued a memorandum stating it is withdrawing the 2017 Endangered Species Act (ESA) findings for trophies of elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia, “effective immediately.”
“The findings are no longer effective for making individual permit determinations for imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies.”
Each case, either to grant or deny permits to import sport hunted animals, will be on a “case-by-case-basis.” The department stated it will consider all information first prior to issuing permits relating to risk assessments of species vulnerability. The service also announced it will withdraw a number of ESA findings dating back to 1995 relating to African elephant trophies, bontebok and lions from African nations.
The decision to withdraw the FWS findings followed a court decision in December from an Obama era ruling that banned the importing of elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled the Obama administration did not follow the correct procedures banning elephant trophy hunting. Following that ruling, however President Trump had decided to turn the order around stating:
“I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this country, and people can talk all they want about preservation and all of the things that they’re saying where money goes towards, well, money was going in that case, going to a government which was probably taking the money.OK?”
Despite what President Trump said, apparently he has changed his mind. An “International Wildlife Conservation Council” has now been established “to advise the Secretary of the Interior on the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation.”
Hunters had criticized Trump’s decision to delay ending the ban and placed the blame on “hysterical anti-hunters and news media outlets. According to The Hill, wealthy hunters from the Safari Club launched into overdrive contending how much they appreciated Zimbabwe’s elephant protection program paving the way for rich hunters to kill elephants. Americans, the largest population of hunters, pay up to $20,000 for each permit.
It is interesting to note, however that the Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke is an avid hunter and trophy collector. There has been no legitimate proof supporting the claims that killing elephants is good for the species. One has to really wonder how much these trophy hunters will make on the profit selling the ivory tusks of the elephants they kill? The Humane Society of the United States contends many problems still remain with Zimbabwe’s elephant management plan, including corruption, lack of government support and poaching.
“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them,” wroteWayne Pacelle, former organization’s president and CEO stated in November, 2017.
Poaching elephants in Zimbabwe has resulted in a decrease in the elephant population. This is also the country where Cecil the Lion was illegally tracked, pierced with an arrow, suffered and then killed by an American hunter.
(Photo by Daniel McBride)
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