A new memo from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, a subsidiary of the Department of the Interior, says it’ll immediately withdraw 2014 and 2015 Endangered Species Act (ESA) enhancement findings for trophies of African elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia. This means a ban on elephant imports into the U.S. will be on a case-by-case basis—not outright banned as it was during the last administration.
This came at the heels of a case filed jointly by Safari Club International and National Rifle Association, which challenged these enhancement findings.
The case was decided on December 22, 2017 in the U.S. Court of
Appeals—District Court. It found these enhancement findings from the last administration boasted serious faults.
“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.”
In November, President Trump angered hunters for stating his decision to leave a ban on importing elephants from Zimbabwe in place after USFWS stated its intention to lift it. He tweeted the following:
A November 2017 Slate piece made an interesting case for trophy hunting to preserve elephants as a whole. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s understandable to find the practice of hunting elephants for sport repulsive. It’s also understandable to be suspicious of this change given everything happening in politics right now. But these loud missives don’t do justice to the nuanced factors that go into developing and implementing conservation efforts. When you considered the facts on the ground, lifting restrictions on elephant trophy bans isn’t necessarily a bad idea. In fact, it could be a good idea.
It’s true that the opening of trophy imports will probably encourage more legal hunting. That’s actually the point. Hunting is not an inherently bad thing for animal conservation. When hunting is legal and well-regulated, it can actually help keep animal populations in check and prevent them from overwhelming an ecosystem. That’s precisely why hunting white-tailed deer is encouraged during hunting season in much of the U.S.