With President Donald Trump freezing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) proposal to end the ban on African elephant trophies, a Florida Republican who opposed the change cheered the decision.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., one of the co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, weighed in on Friday to oppose the FWS reversing the policy which had been in place since 2014.
But, with the FWS decision drawing heavy fire, Trump reversed his administration’s decision as he took to Twitter on Saturday.
“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years,” Trump posted. “Will update soon with Secretary Zinke.”
Trump followed that up with another Twitter posting on Sunday.
“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,” Trump insisted.
Noting that elephants have been covered under the Endangered Species Act for almost four decades, Buchanan weighed in on Trump’s decision to put the decision on hold on Saturday.
“The sport hunting of endangered African elephants is shameful,” Buchanan said. “The president made the right decision to block the importation of elephant trophies but his administration needs to follow up with a clear policy that permanently bans sport hunting of the animal.
“The United States should make clear that it does not support or encourage the slaughter of animals that are facing extinction,” Buchanan added. “We need a permanent ban on sport hunting of African elephants.”
In recent years, Buchanan, who sits on both the U.S. House Budget and Ways and Means Committees, has been active on animal welfare issues. Last year, he teamed up with U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-NM, to urge the Interior Department to end plans to exterminate or sell more than 45,000 wild horses. Buchanan has also been leading the charge on Capitol Hill to stop slaughtering horses for human consumption.
The Bradenton congressman has also been active in trying to keep manatees covered under the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this year, Buchanan protested the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to downgrade manatees from “endangered” to “threatened.” Buchanan also teamed up with U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., bringing out the “Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act,” a proposal banning the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption. Buchanan was named legislator of the year by the Humane Society of the United States in 2016.