Ashley Curtin / NationofChange & Dartunorro Clark / NBC News & MoveOn.org & The Animal Welfare Institute – 2018-03-08 13:50:55
‘Effective Immediately’ — A Reversal of Obama-era Elephant Trophy Import Ban
Ashley Curtin / NationofChange
Donald Trump, Jr. on African safari with knife and tail he has sliced off
the dead body of an elephant he has just shot and killed.
(March 7, 2018) — An Obama-era rule banning the imports of elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe was recently reversed following a decision made by a Washington, D.C. Circuit Court, which “found fault” with the initial ban.
The District Court ruled on December 22, 2017 that the Obama administration “did not follow the right procedures when it drafted its ban on the imports,” The Hill reported. The Service, by law, was supposed to propose the regulation, invite public comment and then make the regulation final after their findings in 2014 and 2015 to ban elephant trophy imports into the country.
The District Court also concluded in its ruling that “The Service also made negative enhancement findings in July of 2014 and March of 2015, each time concluding that information concerning the size of the Zimbabwean elephant population and status of conservation efforts in Zimbabwe did not support a conclusion that killing the animal ‘will enhance the survival of the species.'”
The Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association (NRA), which filed the suit in the District Court, challenged the 2014 and 2015 findings by the Service, which supported a “positive enhancement determination with respect to elephant trophies hunted in Zimbabwe during the 2014 hunting season.”
In a statement by the United State Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service on March 1, the Service announced that it will now consider the permits on a “case-by-case basis.”
” . . . the Service hereby withdraws, effective immediately, the 2014 and 2015 Endangered Species Act (ESA) enhancement findings for trophies of African elephants taken in Zimbabwe. The finding are no longer effective for making individual permit determinations for imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies.”
“All of the above referenced findings are no longer effective for making individual permit determinations for imports of those sport-hunted ESA-listed species. However, the Service intends to use the information cited in these findings and contained in its files as appropriate, in addition to the information it receives and has available when it receives each application, to evaluate individual permits.”
Heather Swift, Interior Department spokeswoman, said on Tuesday that the President’s position remains unchanged — Trump denounce elephant hunting in 2017 and said he would keep the ban in place.
“The recent FWS posting on the website does not break any promises,” Swift said. “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.”
In Reversal, Trump Administration
Won’t Ban Import of African Elephant Trophies
Dartunorro Clark / NBC News
(March 7, 2018) — The US Fish and Wildlife Service said it will now consider all permits for importing trophies of animals from African nations on a “case-by-case” basis, months after the president called elephant hunting “a horror show” and suggested he would keep the ban in place.
In a formal memo, quietly issued late last week and later disclosed in a court filing Friday, the agency said it will withdraw earlier agency rulings related to importing trophies of dead elephants from South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, as well as those related to importing trophies of dead lions and bonteboks from South Africa.
The agency said in the memo it was revoking numerous nationwide “enhancement findings,” which placed certain restrictions on the practice, because those findings were “no longer effective” for making individual permit decisions for trophy imports of dead animals on the endangered species list. However, it also noted that it could still consider the information cited in those findings when reviewing applications in the future.
The Fish and Wildlife Service initially announced in November it had lifted the ban implemented under the Obama administration on importing trophies of dead elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia into the US. But Trump quickly stepped in and suspended the decision after it was assailed by conservation and animal rights groups. The president, whose two older sons hunt, later called the practice “terrible” and a “horror show.”
The Trump administration acted after an appeals court ruled in December that the Obama administration did not follow proper procedures in issuing the original ban.
Jimmiel Mandima, who works for the African Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization, told NBC News that he does not see this new process as lifting the ban entirely, but rather taking into account the differences among African nations regarding trophy hunting.
“My assumption is the recognition of the different circumstances under which the hunting would take place,” he said. However, he said the agency has not been transparent and there are still lingering questions from the conservation community.
“The confusion is not helpful,” he said. “We need more information about the criteria that’s going to be used, we don’t know that yet. . . . It has not been shared, which is, therefore, confusing to us.”
An agency spokesperson declined to give specifics about the next steps, citing ongoing litigation, but did say, “The president has been very clear in the direction that his administration will go.”
ACTION ALERT: Trump’s USFWS To Allow “Horror Show” Elephant Hunting?
Mitch Merry / MoveOn.org
(March 7, 2018) — The Trump Administration announced yesterday that it is reversing course and will now allow the importation of elephant remains (trophies) on a “case-by-case” basis. This is directly in contrast to President Trump’s comments referring to elephant hunting as a “horror show ” and suggestion that he would keep the ban in place.
The decision announced by the USFWS would allow importation of the remains of elephants from South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia, and could allow the importation of the remains of lions hunted in South Africa.
There are two actions you can take to support the petition asking the Trump Administration to protect elephants:
1. Please share that petition to tell Interior Secretary Zinke not to allow American trophy hunters to kill elephants on social media or by email.
2. Please take the next step and email or tweet to Secretary Zinke and tell him to keep the ban on importing elephant remains in place.
Poaching and habitat loss are threatening the future of elephants. Secretary Zinke and the Trump Administration are putting their future in peril to benefit Safari Club International and other organizations advocating for increased access for these unsustainable hunts. Please take action to stop them today.
March 5, 2018 update: Despite Trump tweeting in November that he would be “very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal” his administration went ahead and did it anyway. They are now willing to review applications to bring slaughtered elephants into the United States. Let’s keep up the pressure!
The Department of Interior announced that they would end a ban on the importation of the remains of elephants hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia. This action will encourage more killing of these already threatened animals.
In 2015, the Obama administration determined that Zimbabwe could not demonstrate how hunting elephants would enhance this species survival. Zimbabwe’s elephant population has declined six percent in less than two decades. Reversing the ban now is outrageous and inexplicable.
Please reverse this decision and leave the ban in place.
Thank you for your commitment to wildlife and wild places.
Mitch Merry is the Digital Director for the Endangered Species Coalition
ACTION ALERT: Ask President Trump to
Ban Trophy Imports from African Nations
Cathy Liss / Animal Welfare Institute
(March 8, 2018) — The debate over whether trophy-hunted African elephants and lions from certain countries can be imported into the United States has dragged on for months, with President Trump publicly opposing the imports while his own US Fish and Wildlife Service has tried to legalize them.
Now, the USFWS is trying an end-run around the president. Last week the agency announced that decisions about whether to grant individual applications to bring a sport-hunted elephant, lion, or bontebok (a type of antelope) trophy into the US would henceforth be made on a “case-by-case basis,” rather than having rules that apply to entire countries of origin.
This means that elephant, lion, and bontebok trophies can now be imported from countries from which such imports were previously banned. Additionally, it keeps the public entirely in the dark, because the USFWS is not required to publish these import permit applications.
President Trump has stood on the right side of this issue before. In November he tweeted, “[I] will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal,” and in January he called the decision to reverse the import ban “terrible,” and said, “I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this [country].”
We must encourage him to remain strong on this issue and not allow his own agency to serve only the interests of a very small group of trophy hunters.
ACTION: What You Can Do
Please contact President Trump and urge him to direct Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to ban imports of trophies of elephants, lions, and other imperiled species from African countries.
You can use AWI’s Compassion Index to send your letter.
Share our “Dear Humanitarian” eAlert with family, friends, and co-workers, and encourage them to write to President Trump, too. Thank you for all you do for animals!
Cathy Liss is President of the Animal Welfare Institute
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.