Cecil the Lion’s infamous death didn’t actually do much to change trophy-hunting laws

https://www.popsci.com/cecil-lion-death-trophy-hunting-law

Even beloved animals rarely hold our attention for long.

cecil the lion in 2010

The iconic Cecil in 2010.

When Cecil the Lion was slain by American dentist Walter Palmer in July 2015, the incident sparked fury around the globe. The 13-year-old lion was a popular attraction at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, known for his striking black mane and comfort with tourist vehicles. His fate drew intense news coverage, a flurry of celebrity tweets, and an impassioned monologue from Jimmy Kimmel.

But that short spike in public attention wasn’t enough to inspire lawmakers to make widespread changes to trophy-hunting policies, a new report indicates. Researchers at Indiana University Bloomington found that people really were more concerned about lions and trophy hunting after the incident, yet the impact of that interest proved limited.

“There was this moment of extreme attention focused on lions after Cecil’s death, but it really was fleeting,” says coauthor David Konisky, an environmental policy researcher.

Individual animals—however appealing they are and however upsetting their deaths may be—don’t have a great track record for changing conservation policies, he says. Cecil may not have overhauled the rules on trophy imports, but he was still a pretty impressive poster lion.

To understand Cecil’s legacy, Konisky and his colleague Stefan Carpenter investigated internet search histories in the aftermath of his death. Right after the news broke, people around the world looked up terms related to lion conservation and trophy hunting 50 times more frequently than in the previous two years. But three weeks later, the spike in searches had already waned. In the six to 12 months following Cecil’s death, public interest was only slightly higher than in the two years before the incident.

The team also examined new laws in the United States (and the other seven countries that most often import lion trophies) in the year after Cecil’s death. They found that Cecil’s demise had only a limited impact on the adoption of new rules to restrict trophy imports. This isn’t surprising, Konisky says. “These windows of opportunity are short and often insufficient to create the impetus for policy change.” However, he says, “There were some policies that were already underway, and it may be that Cecil’s death helped push them over the finish line.”

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to fight the illegal wildlife trade on July 30, 2015. In November France issued a ban on lion trophy imports. Cecil’s death may have influenced this move, although it’s hard to know by how much, Carpenter said in an email.

In the United States, several bills were named after Cecil. However, only New Jerseyand Hawaii passed new laws to restrict the import, sale, or possession of animal parts that year. In December 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed one subspecies of lion as threatened and another as endangered; however, the original petition to update the big cats’ statuses had been filed in 2011.

Cecil may have made people more aware of lion trophy hunting. Still, in the United States, the average citizen does not spend much time thinking about lions, Konisky says. “Having a brief spurt of attention is not going to create long-term demand for policy change.”

There are times when a high-profile crisis can draw enough public scrutiny to spur policy changes. This happened after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979.

However, Konisky says, he’s not aware of any incidents involving a famous animal that sparked major changes to conservation laws—or even captured worldwide attention the way Cecil’s death did. “People are really concerned about air pollution and water pollution, but issues around endangered species don’t typically garner a lot of concern or interest,” he says.

For many people, though, the lion’s story was uniquely compelling. Early accounts were filled with “salacious details” of Cecil’s wounding and death, Konisky and Carpenter wrote in the journal Oryx on November 2. “People found it objectionable on many levels,” Konisky says. “It made a mark on folks.”

There are signs that people in the United States are beginning to pay more attention to big game hunting. More than 40 airlines announced in August 2015 that they would refuse to ship lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros, and buffalo trophies. In October 2016, the United States banned the import of trophies from captive lions. And when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to end a ban on importing elephant trophies last month, the backlash was intense. Several days later President Trump announced the ban would stay in place for now.

So it’s possible that future hunts will create even more of an outcry. On the other hand, Cecil’s son Xanda was also killed by a game hunter this summer and received less intense news coverage. “If we had a big focusing event, I would not necessarily expect a different outcome than we saw with Cecil the Lion,” Konisky says.

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Trump’s sons opened a private hunting preserve in upstate New York and neighbors say it sounds like ‘a war zone’

 

February 14, 2018

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are enthusiastic hunters, although that does not explain why their 171-acre private hunting preserve in Wingdale, New York, sounds “like you’re in a war zone,” as one neighbor put it to The Associated Press.

It’s not just the regular deer hunting rifle fire residents are used to, though. Neighbors say they hear the deafening sounds of target practice as well as exploding targets and gunfire ringing out from a wooden tower on the property. “It’s bad,” said another neighbor. “It shakes the windows.”

The Trumps bought the property anonymously in 2013 after unsuccessfully attempting to get a discount by arguing it was haunted. The brothers used a limited liability company to scoop up the land, although paperwork traces back to Trump Jr. and Eric Trump directly.

Jeffrey Ferraro, who is listed as the LLC’s organizer and manages the land, told one neighbor who complained about the noise that his partners “have the Secret Service coming, and they shoot, too.” When confronted by the AP, Ferraro said: “Guns make noise. That’s all I can tell you.” Jeva Lange

End Trophy Hunting in the National Park Where Cecil the Lion Was Brutally Murdered

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/end-trophy-hunting-national-park-cecil-lion-brutally-murdered/

We all know his name … it appeared on countless news channels … he was even projected on the Empire State Building. Cecil the lion’s tragic death brought trophy hunting to the forefront of global conversation like no other case did. People from all walks of life spoke out, changed their Facebook profile pictures, and donated money to the cause, but as media hype died down, the vast majority forgot all about it after a few short weeks. Unfortunately, trophy hunting is still happening and innocent animals are still suffering – in the same place Cecil called home.

A petition on Care2 has been launched demanding that the Zimbabwean government intervene and stop allowing heartless trophy hunters to kill endangered animals around Hwange National Park. This is where Walter Palmer paid $50,000 to brutally end Cecil’s life without even actually “hunting.” Many other disturbing facts behind the infamous case are being brought to light in a new book by the man who studied Cecil for eight years before the tragedy, including how Cecil was lured to the nearby conservatory where lion research was performed and how the Zimbabwe government slid it all under the rug.

The bottom line is that as long as trophy hunting is allowed, animals will be murdered for profit. If Cecil’s story touched you, signing the petition is a simple step you can take in his honor. There is no reason this had to happen to Cecil, and no other animal should be put in the position of being murdered and tortured for the pleasure of cruel and evil trophy hunters. Zimbabwe’s government needs to be held accountable for not taking the crime seriously, and it’s time they call an end to all trophy hunting in and around Hwange National Park once and for all!

Buzz Petition

How Many People are Killed or Injured in Hunting Accidents?

https://www.thoughtco.com/hunting-accident-rates-127877
Male hunter aiming at deer with rifle

[Klaus Vedfelt]/[Taxi]/Getty Images

According to the International Hunter Education Association, in an average year, fewer that 1,000 people in the US and Canada are accidentally shot by hunters, and of these, fewer than 75 are fatalities. In many cases, these fatalities are self-inflicted by hunters who trip, fall, or have other accidents that cause them to shoot themselves with their own weapons. Most of the other fatalities come in hunting parties, where one hunter shoots another accidentally.

Firearm Fatalities in Hunting

Fatality numbers have improved somewhat in recent years, thanks to extensive hunter education programs available in most states, but hunting does come with inherent dangers. Hunting fatalities due to firearms account for about 12 to 15 percent of all fatalities due to firearms nationally. Hunting proponents will point out that the chances of a death due to a firearm accident of any kind are roughly the same as a death from falling out of a bed, chair, or other piece of furniture—about 1 in 4888. If you compare pure numbers, roughly 20 times as many people die each year by accidental drowning than do by accidents while hunting. These statistics are slightly misleading, however, since far more people engage in recreational swimming than engage in sports hunting with firearms.

Overall accidental death statistics from the National Safety Council can provide some context.

Of all accidental deaths:

  • 1 out of every 114 is a motor vehicle crash
  • 1 out of every 370 is an intentional assault by a firearm
  • 1 out of 1,188 is due to accidental drowning
  • 1 out of every  6,905 is an accidental firearms discharge
  • 1 out of every 161,856 is due to a lightning strike

It must be noted, however, that a great many accidental deaths by firearms do not involve hunters.

When shooting-related fatalities occur in hunting, most of the victims are hunters, although non-hunters are also sometimes killed or injured. It can be said that this is a sport that does pose some danger to an entire community, not just to the willing participants.

Hunting Related Accidents in Context

In reality, most the greatest dangers to hunters are not related to firearms, but occur for other reasons, such as car accidents traveling to and from hunting sites or heart attacks while hiking woods and hills. Particularly dangerous are fall from tree stands. Recent estimates say that there are almost 6,000 hunting accidents to hunters each year involving falls tree stands—six times as many as are wounded by firearms. A recent survey in the state of Indiana found that 55% of all hunting-related accidents in that state were related to tree stands.

The vast majority of fatal accidental shootings while hunting involve the use of shotguns or rifles while hunting deer. This perhaps no surprise, since deer hunting is one of the most popular forms of hunting where high-powered firearms are used.

The Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting maintains the Hunting Accidents Centersite, which collects news stories about hunting accidents throughout the United States.

Although the list is long, it’s not comprehensive, and not every hunting accident is reported in the news. If you’ve seen a newspaper article about a hunting accident that is not included in the site, you can submit a report.

Perry County substitute teacher fired after hunting rifle left in vehicle on campus

Perry County substitute teacher fired after hunting rifle left in vehicle on campus

PERRYVILLE, Mo. – A substitute teacher in Perry County School District 32 will not be allowed to work in the district again after a rifle was found in his vehicle Friday afternoon.

According to the Perryville Police Department, officers were dispatched to the Perryville Career and Technology Center around 1:30 p.m. for a report of a weapon in a vehicle.

Students at the center noticed the rifle in the teacher’s car and told an instructor. The school resource officer got the teacher who owned the vehicle and the weapon—a .22 caliber hunting rifle—was removed from the vehicle for safekeeping. The teacher told police he’d been coyote hunting the night before and forgot the rifle was in his car.

The substitute teacher was later escorted from the campus and brought to the police department.

The Perry County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is weighing whether to file charges against the teacher for having a firearm on school property.

Meanwhile, Perry County School District Superintendent Andy Comstock sent a message to all parents about the incident. Comstock said the substitute teacher passed all criminal background checks before being hired. And while it’s believed there was never any “intent to harm or threaten anyone,” the superintendent said the substitute teacher will no longer be welcome to work for the district in any capacity.

The superintendent also praised the students for alerting school officials.

This incident highlights the challenges facing schools today.

There are dangers to children today that did not exist a generation ago. Our staff, and even our students, are constantly vigilant for anything that seems to be suspicious. We stress the importance of “If you see something, say something.” Our students did that today.

Their vigilance paid off, and our crisis plan and training allowed us to ensure that our students were safe.

I know it’s a scary time to be a parent, an educator or a student. With the recent school tragedies across our nation, and false alarms on our campus, we have appreciated the community’s support for our teachers and children. I hope that you understand that your continued support is needed now more than ever, as we work to further secure our campus to keep our children safe.

Shoot Down the Connecticut Bear Trophy Hunt Bill


http://www.all-creatures.org/cash/alerts-20180307.html

March 15, 2018 – VICTORY UPDATE:

Connecticut’s black bears are safe thanks to Friends of Animals and our supporters. On Wednesday, a bear trophy hunt bill was shot down by the Environment Committee of the General Assembly 21 to 8.

“FoA is relieved that common sense and truth prevailed among those legislators on the Environment Committee…” said FoA President Priscilla Feral. Thank you to everyone who helped keep CT’s bears safe!

ORIGINAL ALERT:

March 7, 2018

ACTION!

Find and contact your Connecticut state senators and representatives at (860) 240- 0100 or use this ONLINE DIRECTORY to make direct contact and tell them to OPPOSE the CT Bear Trophy Hunt Bill.

AND

Contact the state Environment Committee’s Co-Chair Craig Miner at 860 240-8860 and co-chairs Senator Ted Kennedy and Rep. Mike Demicco and tell them Connecticut won’t tolerate a blood-soaked, shoot-first approach to bear management, especially at a time when gun violence in this country is an epidemic.

This bill would allow black bear hunting in Connecticut for the first time since the 1800s. But what legislators who support the bill, including a committee co-chair with ties to the gun lobby, don’t want you to know is that you should fear hunters, not black bears.

Hunters in CT killed 10 people and injured 114 in hunting accidents between 1982-2016

Number of people killed by bears? Zero.

Supporters of the bill are also trying to manipulate the public and stir up fear in the state. But here’s the real bear facts:

  • Black bears are not overpopulated. Every sighting of a bear doesn’t mean it’s a different bear. There’s just a paltry 200 bears in the Northwest corner, according to a UCONN study and the state has a capacity for about 2,000 bears, according to DEEP’s own reports.
  • Scientific studies show there is actually a weak correlation between the population of bears and bear attacks. Bear-human conflict is more closely correlated with human behavior. Black bears are shy, according to state bear biologists and are habituated into problematic behavior by humans. What DEEP (Department of Energy & ENvironmental Protection) should be telling you is that in March you should bring in your bird feeders, use bear-resistant cans, avoid feeding the bears, clean your outdoor grills, carry bear spray and use bear bells when hiking.
  • No matter how much supporters of the bill and the dwindling hunting markets fear, shooting bears will not teach the ones who aren’t slaughtered not to be opportunistic feeders.
  • DEEP already has a bear management program and last year it only reported 5 nuisance bears.

Don’t let Connecticut’s bears get caught in the cross-fire of NRA interests who are exaggerating numbers to manipulate the public with fear so hunters, who represent just 1 percent of the state’s population, can slaughter bears to use as rugs and mount them.


RETURN TO Action Alerts Directory Page

Conservation groups oppose pro-hunting slant of new Trump admin panel

US to allow some imports of elephant trophies 01:48

(CNN)Members of a new Trump administration pro-hunting council met Friday for the first time, drawing objections from other conservation groups that say hunting is not the answer to saving big game species.

Hunters and supporters of trophy hunting hold nearly every seat on the International Wildlife Conservation Council, which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke created to advise him on “the conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and economic benefits that result from US citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting.”
Several members spoke in favor on Friday of trophy hunting in certain regions of Africa and Central Asia, saying it provides important funding for conversation efforts.
“Hunting is the crux of all of this. Without hunting, there is no other industry there,” said member Cameron Hanes, a member of the council who’s a bow hunter. “The messaging is what’s poor. To me, hunters haven’t done a very good job of it.”
Conservationists who oppose trophy hunting say the panel is one-sided.
“Noticeably missing from this council are qualified representatives of the broader conservation community with scientific credentials and direct experience with the management of successful conservation programs,” said Masha Kalinina of Humane Society International.
She spoke during a portion of the meeting reserved for public comment; her group is not represented on the council.
Peter LaFontaine, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said he had nominated a member for the council who was not accepted. The group is a “really strange way to focus on conservation,” he said.
The council includes the president of Safari Club International, a pro-hunting group that gives awards for trophy animal kills; an official from the National Rifle Association; several self-described hunters; and two hunting-oriented television personalities.
Members selected as their chairman Bill Brewster, a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma. A 2014 profile of Brewster in the NRA publication American Hunter notes he has hunted in all 50 states.
“There is a conspicuous conflict of interest concern hanging over this council,” Kalinina said. The businesses of many members, she said, would benefit from relaxed regulations on hunting, such as imports of trophies like African elephants and lions.
The issue of trophy hunting was cast in the spotlight in November, when the Fish and Wildlife Service under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke decided to overturn an Obama-era ban on importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia to the US.
After the issue made headlines, President Donald Trump announced he was putting the decision “on hold” to review the “conservation facts.” He later called trophy hunting a “horror show.”
Earlier this month, the Department of Interior reacted to a court order by saying it will consider big game trophy imports from several African countries on a “case-by-case” basis.
The department has not yet issued any trophy permits under that policy, Zinke told Congress at a hearing this week.

More on Zinke’s “wildlife council” (from DOW)

This Friday, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is holding the first meeting of his newly-established International Wildlife Conservation Council. This “wildlife council” is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to promote the international sport trophy hunting industry under the guise of wildlife conservation. In fact, Secretary Zinke’s firing squad of council members holds deep ties with the National Rifle Association and other weapons and trophy hunting organizations.

There is not a single responsibility of this council that is truly focused on wildlife conservation. Instead, it’s all about making it easier to hunt and import trophies. But Secretary Zinke would like to have you believe that this group is dedicated to protecting international wildlife.

IWCC

These photos are of actual council members that make up Secretary Zinke’s inner circle of advisors who would like to convince the American public that this…

Stuffed Cape Buffalo Head (c) CC Lord Mountbatten

…is the best way to further international wildlife conservation and law enforcement.

This killer council isn’t fooling anyone. Secretary Zinke is only interested in bringing together a cohort of hunting buddies to legitimize the killing of rare wildlife for the sake of entertainment – and to make it easier to collect these “trophies.”

Give today! Your urgent donation will help us fight back against Secretary Zinke and this administration’s war on wildlife.

Sincerely,

Jamie Rappaport Clark
Jamie Rappaport Clark
President, Defenders of Wildlife

Activists Target Eric Trump During Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting

https://theirturn.net/2018/02/07/trophy-hunting-rally/

FEBRUARY 7, 2018   BY 

The News

During the Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting (WRATH), dozens of animal rights activists in New York City protested at the home and office of one of the planet’s most notorious trophy hunters — Eric Trump.  Several broadcast and print media outlets reported on the event.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftheirturn%2Fvideos%2F2020944798155907%2F&show_text=0&width=560

During the rally, Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of the animal rights group NYCLASS, entered Eric Trump’s apartment building to deliver a letter to his wife, animal advocate Lara Trump, encouraging her to dissuade her husband from trophy hunting. Two reporters followed her into the building with their cameras rolling.

WRATH was created in 2016 by the animal rights organizationCompassionWorks International in response to the killing of Cecil, a beloved lion in Zimbabwe who was shot and beheaded by Walter Palmer, a trophy hunter from Minnesota. The death of Cecil sparked global outrage and triggered several weeks of public discourse around trophy hunting.

IN 2018, WRATH events took place in 32 cities in several countries around the world, including Australia, Ireland, Canada and Brazil.  

WRATH is held to coincide with the annual convention of Safari Club International, a 50,000 member Texas-based pro-hunting organization that spends millions of dollars each year lobbying elected officials to support their mission. During the convention, organizers auction off hunts with endangered & threatened species. In 2018, a polar bear hunt was featured in the in promotional materials for the convention. 

Trophy hunters justify the killing on the grounds that the money they spend helps to conserve the species and supports local community. Activists dispute that claim, arguing that most of the money spent by trophy hunters goes to the trophy hunting companies and to local government officials.

During the WRATH event in NYC, Nicole Rivard, a campaigner with Friends of Animals, told rally participants about pending trophy hunting legislation in the state of New York:  “We cannot rely on fluid federal law to ensure that Africa’s big five do not go extinct. When it comes to trophy hunting, federal law is not protective at all.  We have legislation – Save Africa’s Big Five bill – to stop trophies from entering New York. The state bill would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of elephants, lions, leopards and black and white rhinos. New York is the busiest port of entry for African wildlife in the US. Let’s shut it down.”

Your Turn

Please follow CompassionWorks International on Facebook to stay apprised of the organization’s life-saving work.

 

Here’s The ‘Urgent Wish List’ Trophy Hunters Sent To Ryan Zinke

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trophy-hunting-groups-wish-list-ryan-zinke_us_5a6f91fbe4b0a52682feaa55

The administration seemed to be moving forward with the requests — until Donald Trump surprised everyone by stepping in.

BYRDYAK VIA GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON — Most trophy hunters consider displaying the head, hide or tusks of a kill just as important as bagging the big one. And advocates of this controversial sport wasted little time asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to change some policies that would ensure hunters could bring exotic wildlife killed in other countries into the United States.

In a July letter, which HuffPost obtained last week as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, eight trophy hunting organizations urged Zinke ― who talks often about the hunting community’s contributions to conservation and was quick to outfit his office with taxidermied creatures ― to take swift action to right the perceived wrongs of the previous administration.

Conservation Force, a trophy hunting advocacy group based in Louisiana, spearheaded the July letter. In it, the nonprofit’s president, John J. Jackson III, and executives at several safari clubs and sport hunting advocacy groups called on Zinke to walk back several Obama-era regulations.

First, they asked the interior secretary to roll back a pair regulations that prevented U.S. hunters from importing the trophies of lions and elephants killed for sport in certain African countries. The organizations also petitioned the new administration to reform how the Endangered Species Act is applied to species outside the U.S., and to reject a petition calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list all African leopards as endangered under the ESA and restrict hunters from importing their parts. They also called for Zinke to revise seizure and forfeiture practices that they say “discourage lawful tourist hunting.”

The letter writers noted the groups’ members annually “contribute tens of millions of dollars to the conservation of wildlife and protection of habitat across the globe.” They warn that failing to implement the recommendations could hurt African economies, incentivize poaching and threaten the survival of iconic species.

“This is not an ideological issue to us,” Jackson told HuffPost. “It’s traditional conservation practices.”

He called the letter to Zinke an “emergency request” and “an urgent wish list.”

A little more than three months after the letter landed on Zinke’s desk, FWS started fulfilling that wish list — be it strategic or by coincidence.

FWS quietly began issuing trophy import permits for lions hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia. And a few weeks after that, in mid-November, the administration lifted a 2014 ban on importing elephant trophies from those African countries. It determined that sport hunting of elephants there would “enhance the survival of the species in the wild,” a spokesperson for the FWS said at the time.

The decision sparked widespread public outrage, including from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

But then President Donald Trump tweeted that he was putting elephant trophy imports on hold ― reversing his own administration’s decision less than 15 minutes after FWS released an official announcement. He called trophy hunting a “horror show” and said he was unlikely to allow for such imports.

More than two months later, neither the administration nor the Interior Department has made an official announcement. But in an interview with Piers Morgan that aired Sunday, Trump indicated that the ban on importing elephant trophies will remain in place.

Jackson is among those who argues that expensive safari hunting is crucial to the conservation of big game species. He says the Obama administration failed to protect African species, interrupting the flow of money that groups in Africa use to fight poaching and protect habitat.

“If these elephants’ survival is dependent upon that revenue — those incentives to the government, to the local people — then any delay is detrimental,” he said. “We’re talking about hurting the species.”

Jackson said the Trump administration has not lived up to his expectations.

“We’re disappointed in the progress that’s been made so far,” he said. “Part of it is because of the president’s hold on the progress that had been made [by Fish and Wildlife].”

That Trump would side with the conservation community over gun rights and hunting advocacy groups is surprising. His sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are avid big game hunters. In a photo that surfaced in 2012, Trump Jr. can be seen holding the tail of an elephant he shot and killed in Africa.

BARCROFT VIA GETTY IMAGES
Bull African elephants sparring at South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
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Jackson isn’t alone in his frustration. A day after Trump suspended his administration’s decision to allow elephant imports, the Safari Club sent out a “call to arms,” in which the group encouraged hunters to complain to Trump and Zinke and blasted “hysterical anti-hunters and news media outlets.”

Conservationists and animal rights advocates applauded Trump for stepping in.

“This is the kind of trade we don’t need,” Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, tweeted in November.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit against the administration Nov. 20, seeking to clear up any confusion about where things stood and to block the Trump team’s effort to roll back the bans on importing elephants and lions. The government’s actions are “arbitrary and capricious,” the conservation groups wrote in their complaint.

It would seem that Zinke is letting Safari Club set Interior’s agenda on wildlife just like other industry representatives are setting the rest of Interior’s work, which is a travesty for wildlife and wild places. Tanya Sanerib, international program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity

African elephants have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978. African lions were listed in 2015. A provision of the law, which is intended to safeguard threatened species and the habitats critical to their survival, allows for sport-hunted trophies to be imported if the government determines that hunting will help safeguard the population. The FWS concluded that Zimbabwe, for example, had made strides to improve elephant management and anti-poaching efforts, according to a notice published in the Federal Register.

The decision on elephant trophies has raised questions about Zinke’s close relationship with the sport hunting community, in particular the Safari Club. The organization’s political action committees donated a collective $24,500 to Trump’s presidential campaign and Zinke’s 2014 and 2016 congressional bids, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Greg Sheehan, principal deputy director of the FWS — who broke the news about the elephant decision to the Safari Club during the African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Tanzania — is a member of the hunting organization.

“It would seem that Zinke is letting Safari Club set Interior’s agenda on wildlife just like other industry representatives are setting the rest of Interior’s work, which is a travesty for wildlife and wild places,” Tanya Sanerib, the international program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told HuffPost via email.

The Trump administration has not yet moved to fulfill any other demands from the sport hunting groups.

But in his time at Interior, Zinke has worked to promote and increase opportunities for hunting and fishing. He installed a “Big Buck Hunter” arcade game in the cafeteria of Interior Department headquarters, which he said would highlight the contributions that hunting and fishing communities make to conservation. And in November he announced the creation of a so-called International Wildlife Conservation Council to advise him on “the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking programs.” Jackson told HuffPost he is among department’s nominees to serve on the council.

During his interview with Morgan, Trump said “a very high-level government person” was responsible for the “terrible” decision to lift the Obama-era ban, but he didn’t specify who that was. “I totally turned it around,” he boasted.

Neither the White House nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service responded to HuffPost’s request for comment on which high-ranking official made the decision and on whether Trump is planning to keep the trophy import bans in place.

Read the full July 4 letter below. Along with Conservation Force, it was signed by representatives of the Dallas Safari Club, Dallas Safari Club Foundation, Houston Safari Club, African Safari Club, Wild Sheep Foundation, Grand Slam Club/Ovis and Chancellor International Wildlife Fund, Inc.