The Trump administration's rollback - and almost immediate flip-flop - of a ban on importing big-game trophies from Zimbabwe has sparked outrage, confusion and a lawsuit filed Monday by the Center for Biological Diversity.
Following strong bipartisan criticism of the administration's decision to allow imports of trophy carcasses for the first time since the practice was halted under the Obama administration, Trump had moved Friday to put the imports on hold. Under study for years.
The 34-page lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington asks a judge to declare the policy move illegal and names as defendants Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Fish and Wildlife Service. "Thank you!" Trump tweeted, a day after lifting a ban on big-game hunters - like sons Don Jr. and Eric - sending their trophies home to the United States.
Trump wrote 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".
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger stands guard in the rain near stacks of elephant tusks Thomson Reuters
"President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical", Zinke said. He said the "issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed". Kevin De Leon, LA councilmember Paul Koretz and a modest rally chanted, "Keep the ban". "California won't have any part in this".
Tanya Sanerib, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said on Friday in a statement: "It's great that public outrage has forced Trump to reconsider this despicable decision, but it takes more than a tweet to stop trophy hunters from slaughtering elephants and lions".
In an official notice published on Friday in the Federal Register, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it had concluded that the killing of African elephants in Zimbabwe as trophies, between the dates of January 21, 2016, and December 31, 2018, "will enhance the survival of the African elephant". The US Fish and Wildlife Service had said allowing trophy hunting of elephants would improve the species' survival chances by providing incentives for conservation. In a list on the World Wildlife Fund website, the Sumatran Elephant is listed as critically endangered along with five other different types of elephants in endangered.In 2014, the ban was created under President Barack Obama due to lack of data on conservation efforts by Zimbabwe, according to the New York Times.The Safari Club International sued the Obama Administration when the ban was passed.
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