In late 2017, the Trump administration (specifically Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke) made the head-scratching decision to reverse an Obama-era ban on elephant trophies that drew criticism from some of the President’s biggest cheerleaders. President Trump, whose sons have been photographed big game hunting in Africa, quickly backtracked and promised that the ban would stay in place. However, that didn’t last very long. In a memo released last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the ban, an addition to the Endangered Species Act, was no longer in place.
The reversal of the order, which banned elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, was “effective immediately.” Now, Fish and Wildlife will reportedly make determinations on whether or not to issue permits for elephant trophies on a case-by-case basis, which will include an analysis of species’ vulnerability. Most interestingly, the Fish and Wildlife memo cited a federal appeals court ruling that said the Obama administration did not properly implement the regulation in 2014. That ruling said that Fish and Wildlife “should have gone through the extensive process of proposing a regulation, inviting public comment and making the regulation final” before putting the ban in place.
Several days before the reversal was officially put on the books, the Department of the Interior announced the formation of a new wildlife conservation working group that will advise the agency, but critics aren’t happy.
“What the agency just did with this memo is completely contrary to everything Trump has been saying,” Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Tanya Sanerib said in an interview with Huffington Post. “The agency is really playing hide the ball. It’s incredibly disappointing.”