WASHINGTON—House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce announced Friday his opposition to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s action to allow importing of certain big game hunting trophies, including elephants.
Royce said in a statement that while when “carefully regulated, conservation hunts can benefit habitats and wildlife populations…it is the wrong move at the wrong time.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that it rolled back an Obama-era prohibition on the importation of game hunted elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia, claiming lifting the ban on trophy imports would aid the conservation of these animals in those countries.
“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” the Service said in a statement to NPR. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the hunting and management programs for African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.”
Chairman Royce, however, disagreed pointing to Zimbabwe’s current economic and political upheaval. The California Republican is the author of the END Wildlife Trafficking Act, which was passed into law in 2016. The legislation provides the U.S. and partner nations further tools to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching.
“American citizens in the country are advised to go outdoors only when necessary. In this moment of turmoil, I have zero confidence that the regime – which for years has promoted corruption at the highest levels – is properly managing and regulating conservation programs. Furthermore, I am not convinced that elephant populations in the area warrant over concentration measures,” Royce said.
He continued, “The administration should withdraw this decision until Zimbabwe stabilizes. Elephants and other big game in Africa are blood currency for terrorist organizations, and they are being killed at an alarming rate. Stopping poaching isn’t just about saving the world’s most majestic animals for the future – it’s about our national security.”