GOP Congressman Calls for Ban on Elephant Hunts

by Abel Hampton November 19, 2017, 0:27
GOP Congressman Calls for Ban on Elephant Hunts

The agency said encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.

"President Trump and I have talked, and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical", U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement later Friday night.

Despite the outcry and Trump's stated reversal, the worldwide affairs page of the US Fish and Wildlife Service still - as of Saturday morning local time - says it will issue permits for importing big game animal parts.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service had already moved to begin allowing people to import hunted lion trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticised the decision.

Mr Royce questioned the action because of concerns not only about African wildlife but U.S. national security, citing the political upheaval in Zimbabwe, where the long-time president was placed under house arrest this week by the military.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., called the Fish and Wildlife Service decision to lift the ban "the wrong move at the wrong time" and in a statement on Friday called on the Trump administration to withdraw it.

Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric are themselves big game hunters.

The African bush elephant is now listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but a provision of the law allows for the import of trophies if it can be proved that hunting the animals contributes to conservation efforts.

According to the Great Elephant Census project, African Savanna elephant populations fell by 30% between 2007 and 2014, while Zimbabwe saw a drop of 6%.

However, Trump wrote on Twitter Friday evening that the decision had been placed on hold.

Trump was referencing his administration's decision to remove restrictions on importing African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. The website says the photos were from a 2011 hunt in Zimbabwe.

Despite an overall fall in poaching, Africa's elephant population has declined in part because of continued illegal killing, said a report this year by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.


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