Category Archives: Wildlife Conservation

SCI Applauds Long-Overdue Yellowstone Grizzly Delisting

SCI Applauds Long-Overdue Yellowstone Grizzly Delisting

Safari Club International celebrates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and hunter-conservationists throughout the country the impending delisting of grizzly bears. The removal of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population of grizzlies (Ursus arctos horribilis) from the federal threatened species list means that management of this recovered population of bears will finally return to the state agencies who have worked diligently with stakeholders to conserve the population. The GYE population consists of portions of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho. Biologists estimate that approximately 700 bears now live in that area.

SCI has long been involved in the grizzly bear delisting saga. The Service first listed the grizzly bears in the lower 48 states as threatened back in 1973. In 2007, the Service delisted the GYE population and were soon after sued in federal court.  SCI joined the suit as an intervenor to defend the delisting. After the district court invalidated the delisting, SCI, along with the other defendants, appealed the ruling. The appellate court affirmed only part of the ruling but the grizzly remained on the threatened species list. Although the Service predicted that it would be able to delist the bears again in 2013, the Service did not propose to remove the GYE population of bears from federal ESA protection until March of 2016. SCI filed two sets of comments in support of the proposed delisting.

The Service will publish a final delist rule in the next few days and the delisting will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Despite decades of recovery efforts, extensive scientific research, and demonstrated recovery, the battle over GYE grizzlies is far from over. At least one anti-hunting group has already stated that they will sue to reverse the delisting. If that happens, SCI is very likely to join that litigation and once again defend the delisting and sustainable use management of the bear.

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Action Alert: Protect Northern Yellowstone Wildlife – Increased Wolf Quota

Our brothers in the mission to conserve wildlife have released a message requesting our assistance. Please read the following, from Big Game Forever, Montana’s Executive Director, Matt Lumley.

BGF-LOGO-Big-Game-ForeverMontana’s Northern Yellowstone Elk and Moose populations are in serious trouble. The problem is simple. Years of uncontrolled predation by wolves in areas outside of Yellowstone National Park is killing too many calf elk and calf moose. Without recruitment of young moose and elk, these herds have been in decline for many years. It’s time for sportsmen to say enough is enough.

For the last few years, the Montana Wildlife Commission has set a ridiculously low harvest quota of just 2 wolves in this huge area. We are hearing that moose in the area almost non-existent. Last fall, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks recommended cutting 95% of elk permits in the area. Cutting hunting permits won’t save calf moose and elk. Only removing these irresponsible and unnecessary limits on wolf harvest will work to restore wildlife.

Only the combined voice of Montana hunters and conservationists can restore balance to elk, moose, and predator populations in the great state of Montana. Please send your message today. 
We have learned that a recommendation was made to increase the wolf harvest from 2 wolves to 6 wolves. While this falls short of the level of wolf management needed to restore the areas hard hit elk and moose herds, at least it is a start. However, pressure from powerful out-of-state anti-sportsmen groups and their sympathizers on the Montana Wildlife Commission have rejected this proposal and left the quota at 2 wolves a year. This will not recover elk and moose in Montana.
We need your support, by sending a strong message to the Montana Wildlife Commission. Please send a message using our automated system at http://cqrcengage.com/biggameforever/app/write-a-letter?16&engagementId=221353

Here is how BigGame Forever’s automated system works. Simply input your contact information to the first page of the BigGame Forever automated system and push the “submit” button. The system will then take you to a second page to edit our automated message by pushing the “submit” button on the second page as well. Please take a minute and personalize the message before sending.

It only takes 30 seconds to begin the process of restoring and protecting Montana’s amazing wildlife resources.
Here is the example email you will find on the second page of BGF’s automated system:

I am writing to ask you follow the original Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks proposal to increase the area 313 wolf harvest quota from 2 to 6 wolves. This is a good start towards stabilizing current wolf populations in this area and give added relief in protecting HD 313 mother herds and their ungulates. Area 313 is far below historical levels for elk and moose. Recruitment of calf elk and moose are vitally important to healthy herd populations. Unfortunately, the agreements to responsibly manage wolves have not been followed for over a decade. The impacts of the failure to manage wolves on calf recruitment in Western Montana are unquestioned. The only way to increase calf vital rates is for responsible predator management.

There are now an estimated 500 wolves within the Greater Yellowstone area. This is 400 more than the environmental impact objective recommended. Now that the state of Montana has management authority over wolves, now is the time to begin recovery of elk and moose. The agreed upon 1994 Environmental Impact Statement for the Greater Yellowstone area determined 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs would be ecologically compatible in the Greater Yellowstone area, to the extent that distribution in numbers be maintained and controlled. We ask that you allow the process of restoring balance to wolf numbers by following these agreed-upon EIS criteria for wolf population objectives in the areas surrounding Yellowstone Park.

Thousands of sportsman, ranchers, outfitters, and local communities in the area are dependent upon abundant big game and common sense predator management for their opportunity and livelihoods.

Increased predation is clearly destroying this once beautiful diverse and opportunity abundant landscape. Please begin the process of restore elk and moose populations. At this point, recovery could take decades. Please do not delay the important decisions needed to reduce predation by wolves in Montana on Montana’s wildlife, hunting opportunity, and outdoor heritage.

Thank you for your support,

 

Matt Lumley
Executive Director
BigGame Forever, Montana

BigGame Forever (www.biggameforever.org) is a non-profit membership organization of conservation-minded sportsmen committed to protecting the future of our outdoor heritage. BigGame Forever allows hunters and fishermen from around the United States to speak with one united voice to promote the protection of abundant wild game and the right of sportsmen


Halt of Wolf Releases Moves to Federal District Court

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LAS CRUCES – In an effort to thwart the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed the department’s application to temporarily halt future Mexican wolf releases into New Mexico from state to federal court late Friday. The department’s application alleges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ignored state and federal laws last month by importing and releasing two Mexican wolves without first obtaining required state permits.

Under New Mexico law, the importation and release of non-domesticated animals requires a permit from the department and federal law instructs the USFWS to consult with the states and obtain necessary permits before releasing wildlife.

“Although we anticipated this move,” said Department Director Alexandra Sandoval, “we believe recent actions by the USFWS violate state and federal law. A review of the state law violations certainly belongs in state court. Regardless of venue, we are committed to pursuing this matter.”

The department originally filed the application in the state’s 7th Judicial District Court. It has since been moved to the U.S. District Court in Las Cruces.


SCI Applauds Passage of SHARE Act in U.S. House

SCI first for huntersSafari Club International (SCI) applauds the bipartisan support of the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2015.  This legislation expands and protects opportunities for the 37 million Americans who hunt and fish, including a provision to codify an “open until closed” policy for hunter access on federal public lands.

Bipartisanship is one of the continuing hallmarks for legislation to protect and advance hunting and angling, and SCI thanks the members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the leadership in the House of Representatives for advancing this important legislation.  We appreciate the hard work of the bill’s original sponsors Reps. Robert Wittman (R-VA 1), Tim Walz (D-MN 1), Jeff Duncan (R-SC 3) and Gene Green (D-TX 29).

SCI also recognizes Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-WI 1), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA 1) for bringing this important piece of legislation to the House floor.  SCI appreciates the efforts of Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT 1) and Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX 32) in advancing this important piece of legislation.

With today’s bipartisan vote, America’s sportsmen and women are a step closer to enacting these much-needed, common-sense reforms. SCI encourages the U.S. Senate to take action on this legislation in the near future.

SCI has been working closely on this legislation with, and appreciates the efforts of, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Rifle Association, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, among other groups. The combined effort by these organizations ensured that the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan SHARE Act of 2015.

Thank you to all of the SCI members and hunters who took the time to contact your Representative and urge him or her to support the SHARE Act.  All hunters’ voices were heard and made a difference!

Read more about the SHARE Act of 2015 here.

Read about the amendments here.


Why All Hunters Should Care About Ban on Elephant Trophies

DSC LogoDALLAS (June 4, 2014) – Relatively few hunters will ever hunt an elephant. But every hunter who supports science-based wildlife conservation and management has reason for concern about the Obama administration’s recent ban on importing lawfully hunted elephant trophies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in April that elephants hunted in Tanzania and Zimbabwe in 2014 may not be imported to the U.S.

Citizens who are ignorant of the differences between legal hunting and illegal poaching, “May have cheered the ban,” said Dallas Safari Club (DSC) Executive Director Ben Carter, “given all the recent headlines about elephant poaching, wildlife trafficking and the federal government destroying its confiscated stockpile of smuggled ivory.”

“Even most sportsmen, who usually are offended when they’re treated like poachers, didn’t pay much attention, as if the ban would affect only those few hunters interested enough, and wealthy enough, to actually hunt an elephant,” he added.

But Carter said the ban sets a dangerous precedent for hunting and conservation overall.

Here’s why:

  1. Lack of Data – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the move was meant to protect elephant populations, but cited only anecdotal evidence of problems while acknowledging a lack of reliable information. Fact is, elephants in certain areas of Zimbabwe (and Botswana) are overpopulated and destroying their own habitat. DSC has offered to help the agency collect the data it needs to consider an informed reversal of the rule. The agency has not responded.
  1. Removing Conservation Funding – Sustainable-use hunting is the foundation beneath a proven conservation system that pays for biologists to monitor elephant populations, water for elephants in arid habitats, law enforcement to protect elephants from poachers, and much more. Obstructing hunting de-funds this system.
  1. Political Influence – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a world leader in conservation, but this ban seems so arbitrary and capricious – so unscientific – that DSC suspects it followed outside political influence. The timing of the rule relative to midterm elections also is suspect. Conservation’s forefathers fought to build a model based in science and free of coercion and political agendas. Breakdowns cannot be tolerated.
  1. Bad PR – Legal, regulated, ethical hunting is unrelated to illegal poaching and trafficking. Yet, more and more, all are lumped together in the rhetoric of politicians and bureaucrats. This ban is just the latest example. Obama and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service voice concern over elephant poaching – and then actively thwart lawful hunting? At best, it’s a lost oppor… (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE)

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