55 Dems Say the Trump Administration’s Decision to Issue Trophy Imports on a Case-by-Case Basis Caters to the Demands of Big Industry and the NRA

Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and 53 House Democrats sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today on the Trump administration’s recent announcement that the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will now consider all permits for importing elephant and lion carcasses into the country on a case-by-case basis. This move will allow more trophy imports into the United States and undermines public and judicial scrutiny of unjustified permitting decisions.

The recent Trump administration announcement is another example of the White House going back on its word to cater to the demands of industry and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The letter states in part:

In November 2017, when FWS announced its plans to allow elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia, it was met with outrage by the American public. Even President Trump directed the FWS to “put big game trophy decision on hold” and stated that he would be very hard pressed to change his mind that “this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.” Following Trump’s tweet, the Department of the Interior issued a statement claiming that no permits for elephant imports from Zimbabwe or Zambia would be allowed pending a “review” of those decisions.

Even though it is unclear if the FWS conducted such a review, the Trump White House and FWS have since tried to quietly announce that they will now consider all permits for importing elephant and lion carcasses on a “case-by-case” basis, as a response to an NRA and Safari Club International lawsuit.

The full letter is available here: http://bit.ly/2IkIu4O

Secretary Zinke created an advisory board – the International Wildlife Conservation Council – in early November made up primarily of trophy hunting advocates. The board includes hunting tourism guides, other hobby millionaires, and members of the NRA and Safari Club. When the board was announced, Ranking Member Grijalva and Rep. Beyer led a letter to Secretary Zinke opposing its creation and demanding that the council be terminated.

“Trump has taught us that we can’t trust what he tweets – it’s all for show – because his administration will always ultimately choose big industry and the NRA over the needs of the American people,” Grijalva said. Trump tweeted in November that he was putting a hold on reversing the Obama-era trophy hunting ban after a Fox News host tweeted her disappointment with the administration’s decision. A few days ago, she tweeted again asking Trump to “stick with [his] good instinct on this.”

Ranking Member Grijalva recently released an updated Committee report that takes a hard look at the rationale for allowing Americans to import hunting trophies of threatened and endangered species, and provides recommendations on how the Trump administration can improve the program. The report found that taxpayers are covering 92 percent of all permit fees, which means they are subsidizing the hobby of people wealthy enough to afford trophy hunting-related expenses.

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