Vern Buchanan is displeased with the Trump administration’s decision to lift the ban on importing elephant trophies from Africa, saying the world’s largest land mammal is a threatened species facing extinction.
“We should not encourage the hunting and slaughter of these magnificent creatures,” the Sarasota Republican congressman said Friday. “We don’t get a second chance once a species becomes extinct.”
The administration is reversing an Obama-era ban on bringing to the U.S. the heads of elephants killed in two African countries.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) officials announced they have determined that hunting African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia “will enhance the survival of the species in the wild,” the standard that determines whether to allow imports of parts — known as trophies — of the animals.
Buchanan isn’t the only conservative Trump supporter disagreeing with the president. Radio and TV personality Laura Ingraham tweeted Thursday that she didn’t understand the decision either.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) November 16, 2017
Along with Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, Buchanan co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and the two men released a statement in opposition to the Trump Administration’s decision to reverse the ban on elephant “trophy” imports:
“African elephants are a threatened species and face extinction in our lifetime. As part of the international effort to reverse this trend, we strongly support the ban on imports of elephant “trophies” from Zambia and Zimbabwe. We are deeply disappointed by reports that there are plans to remove this ban, and as co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, we are united in our effort to maintain the existing ban.”
Buchanan has a strong animal rights record in Congress, so strong that he was named Legislator of the Year by the Humane Society last year.
He’s previously urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restore a database of animal cruelty information that the department removed suddenly and without notice. He has also introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, bipartisan legislation that permanently bans the transport of horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico to be sold around the world.