SCI Challenges California Mountain Lion Import Ban in Federal Court
Safari Club International (SCI) filed a lawsuit in federal court on August 6, 2014, challenging a California law that bans the importation, transportation, and possession of mountain lions hunted outside of California. The California law, enacted in 1990 through a voter initiative, has discouraged hunters in California from hunting mountain lions in others states and countries. SCI’s members in California and surrounding states strongly encouraged SCI to challenge this misguided ban.
“For too long California has interfered with the hunting of mountain lions in other states by residents of California,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “Back in 1990, ill-informed California voters decided it was a good idea to take the management of this predator species out of the hands of the wildlife professionals. Not only did they ban mountain lion hunting within the state, but they went further and tried to impose on other states their misguided views on mountain lion hunting. The result was a harmful and illegal ban on the importation of mountain lions hunted outside of California.”
SCI’s main claims in the case are that the import/possession ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and Equal Protection Clause. The ban both infringes on interstate commerce without serving a strong local interest and discriminates against hunters who wish to import mountain lions as compared to hunters of other non-protected wildlife. SCI filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (Sacramento). The two defendants are the California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Charlton Bonham.