The United States says it will allow certain big-game trophies to be imported on a case by case basis. Nick Ames has more
The US is opening its doors to allowing elephant hunters to bring tusks and other animal parts into the country as trophies, despite President Donald Trump’s on-line condemnation of the practice as a ‘horror show’.
The Interior Department says it is now revising the way it reviews applications to import hunted animal parts.
Under the change, import applications will be individually assessed as to whether the action enhances the survival of the species in the wild.
Previously, the agency applied countrywide standards when vetting applications.
The Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service decided last November to allow some elephant carcasses from Zimbabwe to be brought to the US as hunting trophies, a practice previously halted by the Obama administration.
But after an outcry from both Democrats and Republicans, Trump put the new import policy on hold and used Twitter to proclaim he was skeptical that ‘this horror show in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other animal’.
Now, more than three months later, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has issued a letter dated 1 March announcing the importing of elephant trophies would now be approved on a ‘case-by-case basis’.
A statement from the department read: ‘The US 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. In their place, the service intends to make findings for trophy imports on an application-by-application basis.’
The move has sparked major rows in the USA, even among Republicans who point out the elephant is actually the symbol of their party.
Environmentalists have hit out at the lack of transparency of the decision.
‘The Trump administration is trying to keep these crucial trophy import decisions behind closed doors, and that’s totally unacceptable,’ said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Elephants aren’t meant to be trophies, they’re meant to roam free.’
Hunting advocates claim the large sums paid to kill animals fund wildlife protection schemes, with around $25,000 paying for a 15- day big game shooting expedition and a mounted ‘trophy’.
However opponents point out there is no concrete evidence as to where any of this money goes.