‘Effective immediately’ – a reversal of Obama-era elephant trophy import ban

The Fish and Wildlife Service recently reversed the ban on elephant trophy imports following a decision made by Washington, D.C. Circuit Court, which "found fault" with the initial ban.

Image Credit: World Wildlife Fund

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.”


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