Hunters and range states will soon see a new rule that could affect elephant imports into the U.S. Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service submitted amendments to the African elephant “4(d) Rule” to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for final review before publication. The 4(d) Rule, which the Service enacted under the Endangered Species Act, regulates import of African elephants into the United States. In late 2022, the Service published proposed amendments that would impose stricter requirements for import of live and sport-hunted elephants. The proposed amendments are now set for finalization and adoption once the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs finishes its review, which typically takes a few months.
As E&E News reported (subscription required), the Service received more than 27,000 written comments in response to the proposed rule, in addition to verbal comments provided at a public hearing. In its article, E&E News quoted testimony from Regina Lennox, SCI Litigation Counsel, given during the public hearing a year ago: “Congress’ clear intent was to avoid the placing of barriers on the import of sport-hunted trophies from healthy wildlife populations, such as the elephants in southern Africa. This proposal does the opposite.” The proposed amendments will “harm elephant conservation in countries where elephant populations are healthiest.” Publication of the final rule will reveal whether the Service heeded these warnings or chose to continue with the unjustified and harmful restrictions.