Former President Barack Obama did not follow proper rule-making procedures when he banned the transport of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe to the U.S., a federal appeals court decided Friday.
The Obama administration did not complete the regulation process and neglected to allow for comments before it prohibited hunters from bringing elephant body parts to the country, the court ruled. The court’s decision could add some complexity to a rollback of the ban.
“In this case, the 2014 and 2015 enhancement findings had all of the qualities of a legislative rule, so the Service was obligated to follow the [Administrative Procedure Act’s] notice-and-comment procedures before promulgating the findings,” Judge Harry Edwards wrote in the ruling.
Edwards’ decision strikes an ironic tone after President Donald Trump put on hold the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to roll back Obama’s ban. The president okayed the move initially but flinched following backlash from several conservationist groups. He has not addressed the topic since.
The FWS did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s question about what lies ahead for the future of the ban.
The substance of the ban was found to be unlawful, even though Obama failed to follow proper procedure. Nor did the ban meet the “arbitrary and capricious” standards courts typically use to determine if a regulation is lawful. If Trump does decide to roll back the ban, then he will have to follow, in lock step, the process Obama should have taken before initiating the ban.
Habitat loss and poaching are two of the biggest threats to African elephants. As human populations expand in Africa, more habitat is converted to farms and development. People kill animals such as lions and elephants that threaten the expanding communities – Zimbabwe’s noted corruption and the expanse of poaching has prompted some to argue the practice must be banned.
Yet some conservationists argue preventing hunters from importing their prizes decimates a relatively low impact industry that pays massive dividends toward conservation and GDP per hunter. While the tourism industry pays well, the volume of tourists negatively impacts wild animals not conditioned to seeing crowds of people and vehicles. Tourism also can’t approximate the per capita volume of money trophy hunting brings in.
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