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White House says elephant trophy decision not yet finalized

From Reuters - November 16, 2017

(Reuters) - The White House on Thursday said it had not yet finalized a decision to allow trophy hunters who kill elephants in two African countries to bring the endangered animals home as trophies, a move that had outraged U.S. conservation groups.

The planned move, disclosed this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had triggered protests from conservation groups and a frenzy on social media. Opponents posted pictures of U.S. President Donald Trumps sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who are avid hunters, posing with the cut-off tail of a slain elephant and other dead wild animals on Twitter.

There hasnt been an announcement thats been finalized on this front, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters when asked about the reported policy shift on Thursday. Until thats done I wouldnt consider anything final.

Conservation groups had blasted the move as further imperiling an already endangered species.

Im shocked and outraged, Elly Pepper, a deputy director of the National Resources Defense Counsel, said in a phone interview. I expect nothing less from our president, and if he thinks this is going to go down without a fight, hes wrong.

The group, which does not oppose all hunting, is considering bringing legal action to block the policy change, Pepper said.

The move would reverse a policy implemented by the Republican presidents Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disclosed at a meeting in Tanzania organized by a pro-trophy hunting group that it would allow the import of trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia through 2018.

Advocates for big-game hunting contend it can help preserve wildlife by generating income for poor countries that can promote conservation and improve the lives of impoverished people.

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