By Paul Babaz
With increasing frequency, hunters are being attacked in the public square by many different extremists who sadly have a misinformed and misguided view about the natural world. Despite what these extremists would have you believe, there is a direct relationship between hunting and species conservation. It is part of our mission at Safari Club International to educate policymakers and the public about the essential role that hunting plays in conservation.
This week, we will be joined in our nation’s capital by many of our hunter-conservationist members from across the country to arm Members of Congress with the truth about legislation that protects the freedom to hunt while supporting wildlife conservation across the globe.
Over the course of more than 80 meetings with congressional legislators and their staff, SCI will continue to fulfill its obligation to its 50,000 members by supporting legislation in line with our core mission to promote safe, legal, and ethical regulated hunting as a pillar of sustainable use conservation.
Though we are only five months into the 116th session of Congress, it has been encouraging to see so many members of the legislative branch introduce, sponsor, and promote pro-hunting legislation, many times on a bipartisan basis. Senate Bill 831, for example, would direct the Department of the Interior to delist Western Great Lakes wolves from the endangered species list. This bill has already enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the Senate where many lawmakers want the Interior Department to reissue previous delisting orders, and reward the efforts of states, the federal government, and the hunting community who contributed to the wolf population exceeding recovery goals more than a decade ago.
We are also supporting another bill to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Act. Its 16 bipartisan cosponsors in the House of Representatives all recognize that hunters and shooters contribute nearly $800 million annually to conservation efforts via excise taxes from the Pittman-Robertson Fund.
While it is important to praise lawmakers who recognize the benefits and heritage behind the American hunter, SCI also does not hesitate to fight misguided legislation put forth by lawmakers who fail to see that bills like the CECIL Act will only hurt the very wildlife populations its sponsors claim to want to save. The stated goal of the CECIL Act is to conserve foreign ecosystems but in reality, the bill ignores the fact that well-regulated international hunting is beneficial to wildlife conservation, a statement fully supported by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
While it is true that anti-hunting extremists in Congress and in the general public are becoming more emboldened, those who truly care about America’s deep cultural connection to hunting as well as effective conservation can remain confident that SCI members have put their boots on the ground to fight for them this week.
Paul Babaz is the President of Safari Club International (SCI).