Policy needs to safeguard endangered animals

For a few years, it was illegal to import trophies — body parts — from elephants and other animals regarded as endangered. But earlier this year, federal officials loosened the restrictions, insisting that actually may help preserve some species.

Killing animals to save them sounds counterintuitive. But it may not be.

Some wildlife researchers say money that flows into the local and national economies from hunting of animals such as elephants encourages residents and officials in those places to do more to ensure the species survive. One use of such funds is for anti-poaching patrols.

President Donald Trump has been seeking opinions on the issue, and has said he will reveal a policy on what limits, if any, this country should have on bringing trophies such as elephant tusks into the United States. His decision is due this week.

Trump has expressed some skepticism over relying on income from hunting elephants to help protect them. He probably is right about that, especially given the corruption that is rife in some parts of Africa.

A well-thought-out policy to safeguard endangered animals is necessary. Elephant populations have plummeted by about 30 percent during the past few years. Effective protection ought to be viewed as mandatory.

Making that happen should be the president’s only consideration in devising a new, hopefully better, policy.