President Trump is placing on hold the Interior Department's Friday decision to allow hunters to import elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.
"Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts," Trump tweeted Friday night. "Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!"
Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2017
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke later tweeted that he had spoken to Trump and that the two agreed that "conservation and healthy herds are critical."
.@realDonaldTrump & I have talked & both believe that conservation & healthy herds are critical...the issuing of permits is put on hold... pic.twitter.com/tdDf9GaqwR— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) November 18, 2017
Rep. Ed Royce of California, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, scolded the decision due to the state of emergency that exists in Zimbabwe, which by all appearances looks like a coup.
Royce asked the Interior Department to immediately rescind the directive that is aimed at encouraging elephant hunts by U.S. citizens in the African nation.
Environmental groups have also threatened to sue over the decision. The head of the Center for Biological Diversity, Kieran Suckling, tweeted that Trump's Friday response was to the "massive, instant backlash" he received for the decision.
"It's hard to give him kudos for delaying his own disastrous policy, but he's at least listening to America's outrage," Suckling tweeted. His group was one of the first group's to sue Trump over the proposed border wall with Mexico.
BREAKING: In response to massive, instant backlash, Trump puts elephant killing/import rule on hold. It's hard to give him kudos for delaying his own disasterous policy, but he's at least listening to America's outrage. https://t.co/RDM6huly8A— Kierán Suckling (@KieranSuckling) November 18, 2017
The Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that killing elephants in the African nation of Zimbabwe on or after Jan. 21, 2016, and on or before Dec. 31, 2018, "will enhance the survival of the African elephant," according to a notice published in the Federal Register.
"Applications to import trophies hunted during this time period will be considered to have met the enhancement requirement, unless we issue a new finding based on available information," the notice said.
Meanwhile, ABC News confirmed Friday that the Interior Department also is allowing imports of lion hunting trophies in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The report said federal game officials have been issuing permits for lions for about a month.