Photographer: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP via Getty Images

Trump Puts Elephant Trophy Decision on Hold for Review

Updated on
  • President flips policy in a tweet, highlights celebrity praise
  • Interior had said trophy hunting a net positive for species

President Donald Trump said he’s holding off on a decision to lift a ban on imports of certain hunted elephant trophies until he’s had time to review the decision with his interior secretary.

“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!” Trump said late Friday in a post to his almost 43 million Twitter followers.

Trump’s declaration was a swift reversal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s notice from Nov. 16 saying it would allow elephants hunted in Zimbabwe to be brought back to the U.S. as trophies under certain circumstances. That in turn reversed a ban imposed under former President Barack Obama in 2014.

The service, which is part of the Interior Department, said it had found the killing of African elephant trophy animals in Zimbabwe “will enhance the survival of the African elephant.”

The move to lift the ban had been derided by environmental groups and animal rights activists and had also drawn condemnation from some prominent conservatives. Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham tweeted that she didn’t understand how the policy “will not INCREASE the gruesome poaching of elephants.” Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California, called the decision to allow imports “the wrong move at the wrong time,” amid political turmoil in Zimbabwe.

Trump highlighted praise for the policy reversal Saturday by re-tweeting messages of thanks from cable television personalities Greta Van Susteren and Piers Morgan.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in an emailed statement that he and Trump “both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical.”

“As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed,” Zinke said.

— With assistance by Jennifer A Dlouhy

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