WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge found no reason to lift the U.S. ban on importing sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Safari Club International had sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior after the government announced it would suspend such imports in 2014. The hunting enthusiasts sought an injunction to restore the presuspension status quo, pending a ruling on the merits of the lawsuit.
"Safari Club alleges that the moratorium on the importation of elephant trophies from two countries in Africa has irreparably harmed the recreational, conservationist, and economic interests of its members and of the Safari Club as an organization," U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson wrote, denying the injunction Friday. "But the motion falls well short of the legal standard for preliminary relief."
Jackson found no evidence that Safari Club "members who plan to travel to Africa and hope to shoot an elephant, or that members who have already successfully accomplished that feat, will suffer grave, imminent, and certain harm because while they may hunt elephants, and they may remember, recount, and record any success they achieve, they will not be permitted - at least for now - to bring home a particularly prized souvenir."
The group - which was joined by the National Rifle Association in an amended complaint - did not show irreparable harm to its recreational interests, though it shared numerous reports of hunters who had planned to bring home their big game but were unable to because of the trophy ban, according to the 12-page ruling.
"The court does not doubt the sincerity of declarants' disappointment and it does not find that the suspensions will have no effect on their overall hunting experience," Jackson wrote. "But the inability to import elephant trophies does not result in a 'certain and great' harm to the recreational interest alleged."