Important Notice to SCI members Regarding Future Policy Changes By U.S. Government For Sport-Hunted Trophy Importation

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On February 11, 2014, the Presidential Task Force on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking issued a strategy to combat wildlife poaching throughout the world. The primary focus of this strategy is to curtail illicit ivory and rhino horn trade. While SCI Foundation and SCI strongly support the FWS’s efforts to prevent poaching and the trade of illegally taken wildlife, we have been frustrated with the Administration’s decision to exclude the hunting community and the range countries from such efforts.

When the Task Force was created in October 2013, SCI Foundation worked with the wildlife management authorities of various South and East African nations and submitted a letter to the Task Force in an effort to get their voices heard.. The wildlife that is the focus of the anti-trafficking efforts is their wildlife, yet they were not provided a seat at the table. SCI Foundation also delivered a letter to the Task Force on behalf of the Operators and Professional Hunters’ Associations of Southern Africa because the members of the PH associations are literally the frontline against poachers. In addition, SCI circulated and submitted a letter to the Task Force on behalf of 30 national hunting organizations in the U.S., asking for the hunters’ voice to be heard.

SCI Foundation and SCI continue to advocate on behalf of the hunting and outfitting communities to make certain that the Administration’s wildlife trafficking efforts take advantage of the expertise of these communities and that the Task Force’s strategies do not unnecessarily harm or restrict legal hunting activities. Although it leaves many unanswered questions about the FWS’s future actions, the February 11th Strategy document shows that our efforts have achieved some success. In accordance with the changes recommended by the Strategy –

  • U.S. hunters will still be able to import sport-hunted elephant and rhino trophies, even though the strategy proposes to limit hunters to two elephant trophies per year.
  • The U.S. Government will support community-based wildlife conservation with a focus on using local communities as the first line of defense against poaching. The economic benefits for local communities generated by hunting will be a valuable resource.
  • The U.S. Government will promote joint efforts between governments and nongovernmental organizations, like SCI and SCI Foundation, to develop and sustain anti-poaching efforts.

 

What Does the Task Force’s Strategy Mean for the U.S. Hunter Today? What Will SCI and SCI Foundation Do to Protect the U.S. Hunter from Harm?

 

elephant0213141)      The Strategy Does Not Immediately Change the Law. Hunters can continue to import elephant and rhino trophies from approved populations in Africa. Most changes recommended in the Strategy cannot be implemented until the FWS adopts new formal rules. Until new regulations are finalized there can be NO change to current importation practices. As of now, we do not know the specifics of some of the proposed changes, nor do we know how quickly these new rules will go into effect.  If the FWS issues rules on an emergency basis, the changes will occur more quickly.  If they go through a formal rulemaking period, the process can take several weeks, if not months. Whatever rulemaking is involved, SCI will comment to protect its members hunting and importation opportunities.

2)      The Strategy Recognizes that Poachers are the Problem and Hunters Are Part of the Solution.  The Strategy demonstrates that the U.S. Government acknowledges that regulated hunters and hunting represent a positive influence for wildlife conservation throughout the world. We, as hunters, should be proud of this fact.

3)      The Strategy Demonstrates that the Hunting Community Can Play a Significant Role in Future Strategic Planning. SCI Foundation and SCI will continue to request a position on the Advisory Council to the Task Force and continue the fight for sustainable conservation principles.

4)      The Strategy Opens Many New Opportunities for SCI Foundation and SCI to Weigh in on Proposed Changes to the Existing Trophy Import System. Many of the Strategy’s recommended changes will require new regulations and rules. SCI’s Litigation Team will prepare comments on all the proposed regulations that must be enacted before these recommendations are adopted and will use this opportunity to recommend improvements in the FWS’s current approach to trophy importation.

5)      The Strategy Presents a Platform for Potential Legislative Improvements. SCI’s lobbyists will work with members of Congress to educate them on the positive benefits that sustainable use delivers for conservation funding, anti-poaching and for community-based economic development.

The Strategy does demonstrate that some regulatory changes will inevitably affect SCI members. Our goal is to ensure that sustainable use is maintained and that it is continually recognized as part of the solution to create conservation funding, reduce human-wildlife conflict, and empower rural communities economically. SCI Foundation and SCI are the voices of Africa’s conservation and hunting community. We are a resource for you and your business. We are lobbying on this issue, and we will be working every legal avenue to make sure your interests are protected as conservationists and hunters.

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Comments
One Response to “Important Notice to SCI members Regarding Future Policy Changes By U.S. Government For Sport-Hunted Trophy Importation”
  1. Sandy says:

    Thats great for the hunter, but what about the family/ estate that is left with a tusk or tusks that cannot legally be sold?

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