The Trump administration just lifted an Obama-era ban on elephant hunting

17 November, 2017, 02:04 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • Celebrities lash out at Trump administration over reversing ban on elephant trophies

Although elephants are endangered species, hunters can pay government agencies in the two countries for permits to kill the animals if their expeditions are deemed to "benefit the conservation of certain species", according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, which announced the change on Wednesday.

The policy change comes shortly after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke established an "International Wildlife Conservation Council" to promote public awareness of conservation and the "economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens traveling overseas to hunt".

The change overrides a ban imposed during the Obama administration and applies to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018.

It's unclear how the current political situation in Zimbabwe could affect this decision, but a blog post from the president of the Humane Society points out that poaching has been a problem in Zimbabwe over the years and that the hunting industry there faces corruption issues.

It's unclear when the act is going to be reversed, but a notice regarding this change will be posted in the Federal Register on Friday this week. In recent years, the African elephant population of Zimbabwe declined 6 percent, according to the Great Elephant Census project.

"By lifting the import ban on elephant trophies in Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Trump Administration underscored, once again, the importance of sound scientific wildlife management and regulated hunting to the survival and enhancement of game species in this country and worldwide" said Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.

Safari Club International, a worldwide network of hunters, cheered the announcement. In June, the department removed longstanding protections for grizzly bears near Yellowstone National Park, a step to potentially allow them to be hunted.

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The Fish and Wildlife Service has been talking with wildlife officials in Zimbabwe since the ban was announced in 2014.

It's a reversal of yet another Obama administration policy.

The census reported around 82,000 elephants in Zimbabwe.

The news came the same week Zimbabwe had a coup that left its president, Robert Mugabe, under house arrest.

The decision to allow these ivory hunting prizes into the USA stokes much controversy. Trophy hunting causes prolonged, huge suffering for elephants and fuels demand wild animal products, opening the door for further exploitation.

Research shows that it is a myth that trophy hunting supports wildlife conservation. The Service also banned imports of trophies from lion populations kept in fenced enclosures to be hunted. The pelts of almost four dozen polar bears that USA citizens shot in Canada in spring 2008 got stuck there after Fish and Wildlife declared the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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