Four Animal Welfare Groups Sue Trump Administration After Approving Elephant & Lion Trophy Imports Behind Closed Doors

Four conservation and animal-protection groups sued the Trump administration earlier this week over its secretive new policy of approving elephant and lion trophy imports behind closed doors.

The new lawsuit targets a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision, outlined in a March 1st memo, to shut the public and scientists out of the process for evaluating the impacts of trophy hunting of elephants, lions and other threatened and endangered species in Africa.

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, Ian Michler and Born Free USA filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

A federal court ruled in December that the administration needed to involve the public in trophy import decisions. Instead of complying, Interior Department officials adopted a case-by-case permitting approach that fails to comprehensively consider trophy hunting impacts and severely decreases transparency. The day after quietly finalizing its new approach, the administration announced the first meeting of a pro-trophy hunting council convened to advise Fish and Wildlife on increasing trophy hunting of foreign species.

“Despite ample scientific and economic concerns and tremendous public outcry over trophy hunting, this administration seems determined to allow Safari Club International and other special interests to unduly influence federal wildlife policy decisions,” said Anna Frostic, managing wildlife attorney with The Humane Society of the United States.

The memo rescinds numerous prior rules on trophy imports, wiping the slate clean of longstanding decisions pertaining to imports of trophies from elephants, lions, and bontebok, a type of antelope. However, the service has signaled that it still intends to rely on the bad science contained in its prior authorizations to import wild animal trophies.

“Elephants shouldn’t be killed for cheap thrills, and the Trump administration shouldn’t make crucial trophy hunting decisions behind closed doors,” said Tanya Sanerib, international program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Federal wildlife officials seem to be thumbing their nose at President Trump after he called for an end to the horror show of trophy hunting.”

This challenging the March 1st memo is being added to a pending court case contesting the administration’s decision last November to lift an import ban on Zimbabwe elephant trophy imports, as well as a decision allowing imports of lion trophies from Zimbabwe to the United States.

Polls show that a vast majority of Americans have already expressed their opposition to killing elephants and lions for fun and importing their body parts, but continued public pressure is needed to keep this issue in the spotlight, and to stop a small special interest group from being allowed to perpetuate the threats against these species.

Please help by signing and sharing the petition urging Congressman Raul Grijalva to introduce legislation that would reverse the current administration’s decision to allow trophy imports HERE!

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