President Trump’s administration has officially lifted the Obama-era ban on importing African elephant trophies from Africa and also quietly began allowing hunters to import the body parts of lions from two African countries last month, according to a new report.
A Federal Register notice made final the highly controversial policy that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) announced Wednesday regarding African elephant trophies.
“The Service is able to make a determination that the killing of trophy animals in Zimbabwe, on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, will enhance the survival of the African elephant,” the agency wrote.
“With the information currently available, applications to import trophies hunted during this time period will be considered to have met this requirement unless we issue a new finding based on available information.”
This comes just one day after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the policy had been finalized.
“There hasn’t been an announcement that’s been finalized on this front,” she told reporters. “Until that’s done, I wouldn’t consider anything final.”
ABC News reports that that the FWS also began issuing permits for the importing of lion trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe about a month ago.
The Hill added:
The Obama administration added the African lion to the endangered species list in 2015 after a Minnesota dentist killed a beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe.
The designation of the lion as endangered allows the federal government to issue permits for the import of trophies “when it can be found that the import will enhance the survival of the species,” according to ABC News.
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, the population of the African lion has decreased by 43 percent over the past two decades and is regionally extinct in seven African countries.
The report follows a Trump administration decision Wednesday that it would reverse an Obama administration ban on the importing of the heads of elephants killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
FWS officials said “legal, well-regulated sports hunting” will “enhance the survival of the species in the wild.”
“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” an FWS spokesman said in a statement.