Trump administration to allow elephant trophy imports on 'case-by-case basis'

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The agency added that it would still use some of the information included in those findings, whenever relevant to the evaluation of an individual permit application.

But the guidelines for such a case-by-case judgment aren't specified in the document.

"But will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants (sic) or any other animal".

In addition to the controversial decisions about permits for elephant trophies, the Service has withdrawn decisions for other endangered species, including lions killed in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, according to a memo posted on Friday.

But it has now emerged that earlier this month, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a memorandum that the importation of elephant trophies will now be approved on a "case-by-case basis".

Tanya Sanerib, worldwide legal director at the Centre for Biological Diversity, criticised Mr Trump for keeping the decision private - neither the Interior Ministry or US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced anything official other than putting the memo on its website.

In November 2017, President Trump publicly opposed the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to lift a ban on imported elephant trophies from certain African countries.

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The Trump administration acted after an appeals court ruled in December that the Obama administration did not follow proper procedures in issuing the original ban. Nether the Interior Department nor Fish and Wildlife issued a media release over the last week to announce the decision, which was quickly condemned by environmental advocates.

Associated Press reporter Matthew Daly contributed. In fact, he had the arcade game Big Buck Hunter installed in the employee cafeteria to help support his point. Zinke tweeted last September.

However, he said the agency has not been transparent and there are still lingering questions from the conservation community.

Zinke is an avid hunter who after arriving at Interior a year ago ordered the arcade game "Big Buck Hunter Pro" to be installed in the employee cafeteria at the agency's Washington headquarters, a move he said would promote wildlife and habitat conservation. A census of African elephants, for instance, said their population had plummeted roughly 30 percent from 2007 to 2014 alone. The Fish and Wildlife Service also quietly began issuing permits in October allowing African lions killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia to be imported. But they object to the perceived lack of clarity offered by the administration.

"Elephants aren't meant to be trophies, they're meant to roam free". Soon after the announcement, President Trump said he would "Put big game trophy decision on hold" in a tweet.

NBC News reports that an agency spokesperson refused to give specifics about the following steps - citing ongoing litigation - but did say: "The president has been very clear in the direction that his administration will go".

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