A US Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman said the move would allow the two African countries to include US sport hunting as part of their management plans for the elephants and allow them to put “much-needed revenue back into conservation.”
Critics, however, note the restrictions were created by the Obama administration in 2014 because the African elephant population had dropped. The animals are listed in the Endangered Species Act, which requires the US government to protect endangered species in other countries.
“We can’t control what happens in foreign countries, but what we can control is a restriction on imports on parts of the animals,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said earlier this week.
On Friday, Pacelle said, “Grateful to President Trump for reassessing elephant and lion trophy hunting imports. This is the kind of trade we don’t need.”
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued a statement Friday night about putting the decision on hold: “President Trump and I have talked and 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.”