Another year is drawing to a close, and for yet another year, Safari Club International and the Safari Club International Foundation further cemented their status as “First for Hunters” and “First for Wildlife” Despite ongoing challenges due to current circumstances, both SCI and SCIF continued making positive impacts on hunting rights and wildlife conservation worldwide.
From an advocacy standpoint, SCI played a key role in securing one of the most significant legislative wins for hunters in decades as the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law earlier this summer. This marks the federal government’s largest investment ever to conserve America’s wild places and wild things and provide public access for people to enjoy the great outdoors. SCI’s Government Affairs team was actively involved with Congressional partners from the day the bill was introduced until the day it was signed into law, and thousands of SCI members engaged at the grassroots level by sending comments of support to members of Congress in all 50 states.
SCI was equally active on state legislative issues, most notably leading the fight in defeating a trophy importation ban in California that would have devastated rural communities and wildlife conservation efforts in Africa, working to expand Sunday hunting on public lands in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, working to defeat hunting contest bans, working to keep hunting seasons open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and engaging on a variety of hunting and conservation issues in nearly every state.
As one of the few hunting organizations with an in-house legal team, SCI’s lawyers had a busy year. For them, 2020 will always be known as the year of the bear. SCI’s docket included plenty of bear-related lawsuits this year, a challenge to New Jersey's closure of state lands to black bear hunting, a successful defense of the Louisiana black bear delisting from the Endangered Species Act, an unsuccessful defense of the delisting of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear, two challenges initiated by SCI to National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service rules related to bear hunting on federal lands in Alaska, and the beginning of a lawsuit in which SCI is defending black bear hunting on National Forests in Idaho and Wyoming. The year also marked the successful end to a string of lawsuits related to elephant and lion importation that began in 2014. Although much has already happened in the courts this year, there’s no slowing down, and the final two months are shaping up to be busier than ever for SCI’s litigation team.
The SCI Foundation dedicated nearly one million dollars to conservation- related initiatives in 2020. Much of that funding was applied to vital wildlife research on a wide variety of ecological issues and habitat projects, and SCIF further established themselves as one of the leading organizations in the country when it comes to species like mule deer, bear, and other game. SCIF provided significant support for various anti-poaching efforts across Africa, in addition to involvement with a number of research projects on a variety of species across the continent. SCIF recently hosted the 18th annual African Wildlife Consultative Forum, which shifted to a virtual event this year due to the pandemic. The conference remains one of the largest platforms for government officials and the hunting industry to discuss collective goals and priorities each year.
As 2020 wraps up, both SCI and the SCI Foundation are looking towards 2021 with ambition and optimism as they lead the way in protecting the freedom to hunt andpromoting wildlife conservation worldwide.