Trump Reverses Obama-Era Ban on Elephant Trophy Imports

AP TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI
AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Most of us expected President Trump to break with many of the Obama-era policies of the past when he took office. After all, that’s why he was elected, to do away with the Obama-era policies of the past.

However, though significant, this particular policy break will not fall into the category of dismantling Obamacare.

According to The Hill, “The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced last week that it will now consider all permits for importing elephant trophies from African nations on a ‘case-by-case basis,’ breaking from President Trump‘s earlier promises to maintain an Obama-era ban on the practice.

“In a formal memorandum issued on Thursday, FWS said it will withdraw its 2017 Endangered Species Act (ESA) findings for trophies of African elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia, ‘effective immediately.'”

The memorandum spells out the reasoning for the policy reversal. According to the memo, “the findings are no longer effective for making individual permit determinations for imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies.”

Instead, the new FWS policy will, “grant or deny permits to import a sport-hunted trophy on a case-by-case basis.”

According to The Hill:

The decision to withdraw the FWS findings followed a D.C. Circuit Court decision in December that found fault with the initial Obama-era rule, which banned importing elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe.

“In response to a recent D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is revising its procedure for assessing applications to import certain hunted species. We are withdrawing our countrywide enhancement findings for a range of species across several countries,” a spokesperson for FWS said in a statement. “In their place, the Service intends to make findings for trophy imports on an application-by-application basis.”

A federal appeals court ruled at the end of last year that the Obama administration did not follow the right procedures when it drafted its ban on the imports. The court also said the FWS should have gone through the extensive process of proposing a regulation, inviting public comment and making the regulation final when it made determinations in 2014 and 2015 that elephant trophies cannot be brought into the country.

The agency used the same procedures as the Obama administration for its ESA determination in 2017 that led to reopening African elephant imports to the U.S. in November.

The International Wildlife Conservation Council, a group established by the Department of the Interior, will advise Secretary Zinke on the benefits that recreational hunting affords wildlife and habitats, in places like Africa.

The council will meet for the first time on March 16th.

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