NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - A decision by the Trump administration earlier this month lifted a ban on importing sports-hunted trophies of elephant parts from certain African countries. Several months ago, President Trump appeared to pause his first attempt to lift the ban amid public uproar. But a memo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dated March 1 quietly changed that.
"Instead of having these country-wide-based finding they're just going to do import determinations on a case-by-case basis behind closed doors with no transparency," said Masha Kalinina of Humane Society International.
Importation permits on a case-by-case basis is a win for trophy hunters and a massive threat to wildlife, according to Kalinina, an international trade policy specialist.
"Trophy hunting is a dying industry on its last breath," Kalinina said. "They're grasping at straws here and they have a friendly administration so they're taking full advantage while they can."
Kaliniana said that elephant tusk sizes have evolved to become smaller through trophy hunting.
"They want them in their living rooms, the bigger tusks, the braver and tougher of a hunter you are," Kaliniana said. "Now the elephants are having smaller and smaller tusks."
This memo, she said, is only going to make matters worse. Humane Society International is now challenging this memo in court. The agency has asked President Trump to direct the Department of Interior to immediately halt trophy imports pending a comprehensive evaluation of the wildlife management programs in the African exporting countries.
"We want there to be a transparent review of imports of trophies into this country," Kaliniana said.
President Trump has yet to comment on any of this. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson would not comment, citing ongoing litigation.