The advisory council formed by President Donald Trump to help revise federal rules on importing heads and hides of rhinos, elephants and lions is full of people who like to hunt such animals, according to an Associated Press report published Thursday.
AP reporters reviewed the backgrounds and social media profiles of the 16 members of the newly created International Wildlife Conservation Council. The research indicated the council will largely agree with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s beliefs, which the AP summed up as “the best way to protect critically threatened or endangered species is by encouraging wealthy Americans to shoot some of them.”
It’s no joke. Safari trips come with big price tags, and advocates say that allowing wealthy individuals to hunt exotic game helps support habitat conservation and local economies. But conservationists say tourists who merely observe the animals also provide local economic support, and any disruption to a fragile population can be harmful.
Trump’s wildlife council includes many active trophy hunters and people affiliated with hunting, such as representatives of rifle and bow manufacturers, the AP found, indicating the council may consider few contrarian viewpoints as it fulfills its mission.
Some members also have direct ties to the Trump family ― one co-owns a private hunting preserve in New York with Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
The council will have a $250,000 budget to spend on travel and other expenses, according to the AP.
Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Although Trump called big-game trophy hunting a “horror show” in a November tweet, rules on imports have loosened under his presidency.
The AP report came the day before the council’s first scheduled meeting. Just over a week ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service broadened its decision to reverse Obama-era restrictions on some elephant and lion imports. The move came after an appeals court ruled that the Obama administration had not followed regulatory procedures when implementing them.