Skip to Main Content
Services Talent Knowledge
Site Search


Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

November 29, 2022

USFWS Proposes Revision to African Elephant 4(d) Rule

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently proposed to revise the rule for the African elephant promulgated under Section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Section 4(d) applies to species that have been listed as threatened under the ESA and establishes a special rule for certain threatened species.

According to the USFWS, the proposed revisions are intended to address an apparent rise in international trade of elephants and elephant parts. The USFWS’s proposed revisions would change the standards for certain elephant imports into the United States and, according to the agency, clarify the existing enhancement requirements for the import of sport-hunted trophies. 

The USFWS’s proposal includes the following key changes:

  • Removes the exception in 50 CFR 17.40(e)(2) from prohibitions for import, export, interstate commerce, and foreign commerce in live African elephants to always require a permit under 50 CFR Part 17.
  • Establishes standards used to evaluate “enhancement” under the ESA for the import of live African elephants under a new proposed 50 CFR 17.40(e)(10)(i). 
  • Requires “suitably equipped to house and care for” findings for permitted transfers after import to ensure live elephants are going only to facilities that are suitably equipped to care for them.
  • Establishes an annual certification requirement for range countries that allow for export of live African elephants destined for the United States under a new proposed 50 CFR 17.40(e)(10)(ii). 
    • This proposal will not change the current enhancement requirement but clarifies how that requirement can be met. 
  • Establishes an annual certification requirement for range countries that export sport-hunted trophies to the United States under a new provision to 50 CFR 17.40(e)(6).
  • Incorporates CITES National Legislation Project category designations into the acceptance of imports under 50 CFR 17.40(e)(2), (e)(6), and (e)(10) under a new proposed 50 CFR 17.40(e)(10)(ii).

The proposed changes will not alter the USFWS’s current practice of evaluating permit requests on an application-by-application basis. 

Interested parties may comment on the proposed changes to the 4(d) rule on or before January 17, 2023, by one of the following methods: 

  • Electronically, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Enter docket number FWS-HQ-IA-2021-0099.
  • Via email to
  • Via US Mail, addressed to:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-IA-2021-0099 
US Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W 
5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803

The USFWS will also hold a virtual public hearing via Zoom on January 5, 2023, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Mike Oropallo or Rick Capozza, Outdoor & Wildlife Team co-leaders, at and, respectively; Tom Paul, counsel, at; Dan Krzykowski, associate, at; or another member of the firm’s Outdoor & Wildlife Team.

Featured Media


NYS Siting Board Grants Developer's Petition for Relief From County's Unreasonable Delay


Horseback Rider Assumes Risk of "Green Broke" Horse


New York Adult Survivors Act Set to Expire


NYS Appellate Court Reverses in Favor of Policyholder in Ensuing Loss Case


Temporary Health Care Staffing Agencies Can No Longer Charge for Hiring Their Personnel


The First Department Addresses When a Party Is Entitled to Treble Damages Pursuant to Judiciary Law §487

This site uses cookies to give you the best experience possible on our site and in some cases direct advertisements to you based upon your use of our site.

By clicking [I agree], you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For information on what cookies we use and how to manage our use of cookies, please visit our Privacy Statement.

I AgreeOpt-Out