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Trump backs off allowing elephant trophy imports — for now

President Trump and the Interior Department announced Friday night that they're freezing plans to allow the importation of parts of elephants hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Why it matters: Plans to reverse a ban on such imports had sparked strong criticism from environmental groups and others as well.

On Friday GOP Rep. Ed Royce, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the move to allow imports was inappropriate in light of the crisis in Zimbabwe, and that he he did not believe the country's government, given its years of corruption, can properly manage conservation programs

"When carefully regulated, conservation hunts can benefit habitats and wildlife populations. That said, this is the wrong move at the wrong time," Royce said.

Proponents of sport hunting say it can raise funds for initiatives that aid the conservation of imperiled species. Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service had said late this week that "well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation."

However, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement Friday night: "President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical. As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed."

Go deeper: The New York Times has more on the decision here.

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