Trump intervenes on elephant trophy hunting issue

By on November 17, 2017 with 31 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

In a tweet to more than 40 million followers, President Trump announced this evening that he’s “put big game trophy decision on hold,” signaling discomfort with the trajectory of public discussion concerning the Interior Department’s enormously controversial announcement on Thursday to allow imports of elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The agency’s announcement, which reversed a 2014 Obama administration decision to deny trophy hunters the opportunity to bring trophy tusks and other parts from Zimbabwe into the United States, triggered delirium among the nation’s small fraternity of big-game hunting enthusiasts, but provoked widespread condemnation among Americans of all political stripes. Long-time animal advocates such as Ellen DeGeneres and Ricky Gervais criticized the action, but so too did major conservative pundits, including Laura Ingraham and Mike Savage – two of the president’s biggest supporters during the presidential campaign.

“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts,” wrote the president in a tweet this evening. The interior secretary confirmed the action in a separate tweet.

We hope that after consulting with Interior Secretary Zinke, the president will direct the department to maintain a strict ban on any imports of sport-hunted African elephant and lion trophies. Both species are protected under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act, and their populations have been in steep decline, as a consequence of a variety of human-caused factors, including trade in the parts of these animals. The primary tool the agency invokes for foreign-listed species under the authority of the Endangered Species Act is to restrict imports of parts of animals into the United States. In short, if American trophy hunters cannot import the heads, tusks, and hides of the animals, they are unlikely to kill them in the first place.

Keeping elephants and lions alive is a key to economic progress in so many African nations. Millions of tourists trek to natural areas throughout Africa to see elephants, lions, and the extraordinary wildlife on the continent, collectively contributing billions to the economies of wildlife-rich nations. Dramatically fewer in number than wildlife watchers, trophy hunters generate minuscule dollars in relative terms. What’s more, trophy hunting robs these nations of their greatest resources, diminishing the wildlife-watching experiences of so many tourists. Any U.S. sanctioning of trophy hunting sends a particularly contradictory message at a time when the world has been rallying to save elephants and lions.

As I tweeted earlier this evening, we are grateful to President Trump for reassessing elephant and lion trophy hunting imports. This is the kind of trade we don’t need. We hope that he hears an outpouring of concern over any plan to promote the killing of these species and that he holds firm and makes the protections indefinite.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. John Bachman says:

    Do not start celebrating too early and do not start dumping praise on Trump. He may have reacted to what one person suggested to him. He has not heard from his buddies at NRA and Safari Club. May even be as simple as his sons feel they cannot go elephant hunting right now because of their position so they do not want anyone else to enjoy the killing!

    • Susan M. Jeavons says:

      Lets hope you are wrong John Bachman.

    • Rachel vaughan says:

      Stop. He just got 3 college students out of ten year sentences. Enough already. Get over it.

      • save africa says:

        What the hell are you talking about? What do college students have to do whit this article? Did I miss something here?

    • Kim Dobson says:

      I agree, John Bachman. You can’t just assume what he will consider or what the reasons we don’t hear are. Not everybody cares that when an elephant mother is killed that her baby’s heart is shattered, and that baby very outwardly shows it’s anguish. They don’t care that a lot of times when a big male lion is killed that another will step in and a lot of times will kill the cubs in order to promote making the pride his own. They dont care or even give a thought to the fact that the loss of these endangered animals is also a devastating loss for their own families future generations. Endangerment leads to extinction. If these trophy hunters, and trophy clubs, yes I’m targeting you too, are stopped, maybe their future generations will get to enjoy what at this time they are so willing to remove from this planet.

  2. Patricia Randolph says:

    The trajectory of extinction for large mammals from elephants to tigers to wolverines to cheetahs to giraffes and wolves endangered – takes us to a place of only small mammals maybe surviving on planet earth. 60% of large mammals are threatened with extinction now. 2/3 of all wildlife on the planet destroyed in just 50 years from already diminished 1960 levels – and 50% of all species predicted to be EXTINCT by the end of this century.

    It took the Permian extinction 100,000 years to take out 97% of life and we have done in 66% in just 50.

    If Trump wants his grandchildren to have more than golden chariots, it would be wise to step up for all of life including the climate that threatens us as well.

  3. Thayananda says:


  4. Lynn Frasdr says:

    Please protect our animals as We are called to do. The word says be responsible for them . That would not mean poaching and cruelty/torture and/or bring to extinction.

  5. Patricia Stephenson says:

    For those inclined to write/call Senators and Representative and the Secretary of the Interior (and I hope you do) you might consider mentioning the following talking points:
    1. Conservation programs in Africa are funded largely by eco-tourism – not hunting permits. African countries regard elephants and other wildlife a national resources and thus have indeed tried to protect them.
    2. “Big game” hunting largely occurs on private reserves owned by rich white guys. Thus the argument that hunting permits will provide additional funding for conservation programs on public land is spurious.
    3. The NRA cannot legitimately assert that anyone’s second amendment rights are infringed upon by denying them the right to import trophies to the US.
    4. There are far more conservation voters in the US than hunters who travel to Africa to shoot elephants. Do the math.

    • Marisa Pierson says:

      Thank you for these talking points. I have written to the Secretary of the Interior, my Congressional reps and Trump (I can hardly stand to refer to him as The President.) I too urge everyone to contact your respective members of Congress and Secretary Zinke – the more messages they receive opposing the lifting of the ban, the better chances of keeping it in place.

  6. Lori Sears says:

    I think it’s so sad their should always be a law protecting the animals from.big game hunters

  7. Vicki Hinton says:

    Please don’t remove the ban on ivory exportation.

  8. Donna Steinmetz says:

    Thank you Mr. President! I’m so glad you are rethinking this!!
    I was so upset last night upon hearing of the ban being reversed. I voted for you and have been a firm supporter of your decisions until this. My heart ached upon hearing the news.
    I love all animals. Elephants are such sensitive, compassionate and loyal animals. We must do all we can not to encourage trophy hunting or poachers from doing awful things to these majestic creatures God has given us!
    Thank you to the Hunane Society as well for everything they do to help animals worldwide.
    If only people were as compassionate and loyal as animals our world would be a better and safer place.

  9. Maureen says:

    Such animal cruelty for the sake of money is not something that ‘will make America great again.’
    Protecting and respecting the animals
    Is something this country should stand for. 🇺🇸

  10. Kim anzaldo russo says:

    This is a cruel inhumane act! No animals deserves to die or suffer for sport or as a trophy disgusting beyond words! Ttump I am a supporter and I know your children huntbut no amount of money paid should allow this! It is our nature and our circle of life and should be regarding as important as any human life! These animals are more important to our eco system than any human is! Please keep them safe!

  11. Lisa anne says:

    Please stop it. If ur so smart. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out it’s just morally wrong. And selfish. And strait up Mean. It’s like saying it’s ok to murder. These animals are defenseless and deserve to live out their lives. Put them first for once. Not money.

  12. Lisa anne says:

    Oh our comments cannot promote violence?? But this act of killing defenseless animals is ok??? Stupid and hypocritical!!! This world is so frickin backwards

  13. Karen Stammeyer says:

    Thank you for the ban, no animal should be killed for a horn, or tusk, or as a trophy!

  14. Rachel vaughan says:

    Stooooop. Just stop!

  15. Carolyn Beavers says:

    Does Trump think he is a hero to animal lovers because he is now reversing his OWN decision on bringing back elephant parts to the states??? What about the 40 airlines that had pledged they would no longer allow transportation of hunting trophies on their airlines? How was he planning on getting around that little item?

  16. Connie Mogull says:

    Thousands upon thousands of people are 100% against allowing the parts of elephants to be allowed to come into this country as a trophy. People of all walks of life, those who did and didn’t vote for Trump saw the possibility of elephants being lost to this world forever. There is not one reason to remove the ban–not one reason. There are far more urgent matters for our president to address–some that would allow his detractors to have a better view of him. If this cruelty is encouraged and allowed, there is no hope of those that completely abhor him as President will ever respect him in any way again. This is something that is morally wrong and must never happen no matter what. Please heed our voices.

  17. Lynda brown says:

    I am deeply saddened for the fact that humans think they have the right to kill any wildlife! Even worse, for a friggin trophy to hang on your wall or wear on your body ( fur trade) it’s always about money at the expense of innocent live creatures! So wrong- on every level of humanity- what’s left of it!

  18. Linda Valentin says:

    This law must never be abolished. Let people be judged by the way they treat our animal
    brothers and sisters. This is how we can show our greatness!

  19. Patti Fisk says:

    Ages ago some of us grew up seeing trophy heads on walls, but when we are old enough to think beyond the wall and learn how those heads and bodies got there, we become heartbroken. No human should have a right to kill these majestic elephants. Thank You for thinking about the ELEPHANTS and any other wild animal near extinction. When we watch Nature shows we can see almost humanlike compassion these animals have toward their young and each other. Please don’t break their hearts💔.

  20. Charles Strand says:

    Trophy hunting is legal in every U.S. State, Africa allows or dis-allows it in Africa, not us. I despise trophy hunting, but if you want to help animals, plenty to do right here. We allowed the torture and abuse of circus elephants for over 100 yrs, a far worse and more protest worthy issue, this is mostly another Trump bashing, sore loser issue… and he will likely reverse it.

  21. Michael says:

    A powerful consideration with subsidizing trophy hunting, is tat it has effects on wildlife – they increasingly fee and avoid all human sensory detection.
    Thus it leads to decreased wildlife viewing, and vastly inexorably decreasing income for the nations allowing it, as the wildlife viewing and park visitation trade is a major driver in some economies, including ALL economies local to parks, and preserves.
    Hunting is, in short, DEVASTATING to ALL life, and to communities, regions, and nations.

    This is aside from the sheer sociopathic path of cultures who endorse hunting for pleasure and professional industry. Te psychosocial quantification is now at last coming in, and crazed killers are made through accepted violence to animals.

  22. Dominic says:

    why cant the humane society protect the elephants all they are doing is leaving the work to the people who pay for it and most people from Zimbabwe need the food or they die and the humane society could do the same thing the DNR does which is regulate the hunting so they elephants do not go extinct

    • save africa says:

      The Humane Society with Born Free, Animal Rights and The Defenders of Wildlife are doing everything in their power to stop this. They can’t do it alone. If petitions come your way, sign and more importantly, share them. Petitions go a long way unless you don’t sign and share them. There shouldn’t be hungrey people in Zimbdabwe. Trophy Hunting has been around since the Teddy Roosevelt days. It’s obvious where all that money went. Poaching is growing animal species are rapidly declining and local villagers have no running water or food. if this money had been being distributed as thought, people wouldn’t be starving, there would be full access to water and they wouldn’t still be destitute and exposed to dangerous wildlife. I don’t want to hear they are contributing to wildlife, combating poachers and feeding local villages for 2 days. They can take their money and feed these people for years. they can provide them with running water, and build secure fenced in passages for children to get to their schools safely.
      They could have even had fenced walls to keep their cattle safe from predators. This money rarely leaves the pockets of the corrupt governments when they are handed it.These are all lies they tell you so you will stop harassing them and make their hobbies easier for them..

  23. Lory Carr says:

    “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way” Martin Luther King Jr.

    Why do people need trophies? Put your money toward helping and not harming.

  24. Daniel O'Brien says:

    we are not going to allow any trophy hunting to be resumed because we must keep the wildlife protected and we can never trust Trump or his administration ever again because they’ve been rude to the wildlife and it’s important to keep it protected no matter what which is why we must not accept anything from him

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