President Trump said Friday he's delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review "all conservation facts." The US Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it would allow such importation from Zimbabwe and Zambia, arguing that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs. Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. California Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the "wrong move at the wrong time." Trump tweeted Friday that the policy had been "under study for years." He said he would put the decision "on hold" and review it with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The AP reports Zinke issued a statement later Friday saying: "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." Royce questioned the action because of concerns not only about African wildlife but US national security, citing the political upheaval in Zimbabwe, where the longtime president was placed under house arrest this week by the military. The move would override a 2014 ban imposed by the Obama administration and would apply to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018.
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