- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2017

President Trump on Friday abruptly reversed a decision to lift a ban on importing trophies of African elephants shot by big game hunters, saying the issue needed more study.

“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!” the president wrote on Twitter.

The new policy by the U.S. Fish an Wildlife Service was announced Thursday and immediately encountered fierce backlash from animal rights advocates, environmentalists and Hollywood celebrities.

Fish and Wildlife said allowing such importation would encourage wealthy big-game hunters on regulated African animal preserves and help raise money for conservation programs.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also issued a statement saying that he and the president agreed that a delay was in order.

“President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical. As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed,” he said.

Mr. Trump put the new policy on hold just hours after the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defined the change, which would have limited the imports to preserve hunts and not affected the broader ban on imported elephant ivory.

Ms. Sanders noted that the new policy was based on a study begun in 2014 under the Obama administration.

“This review established that both Zambia and Zimbabwe had met new standards, strict international conservation standards, that allowed Americans to resume hunting in those countries,” she said.

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