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Federal Legislation Threatens Science-Based Wildlife Conservation

The House today passed, on a 224 to 189 vote, a package of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills. The package consists of four bills that fund federal departments including State, Agriculture, Interior, and Veterans Affairs from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.  No Republicans voted in support of final passage.  Included in the $36.8 billion FY 21 Interior-Environment funding bill are two provisions that directly threaten wildlife management both in the United States and abroad. 

Section 436 of the bill would prevent the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) from using federal funds from being used to process permits for the importation of elephant or lion trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania. These three countries have some of the highest populations of these species. In many instances, these populations exceed their ecological or social carrying capacity, in turn threatening human safety as well as degrading the habitat to the detriment of other species. Such a ban on trophy importations would have a devastating impact on science-based wildlife conservation efforts and rural communities across the continent.

SCI Federal Legislator of the Year Congressman Jeff Duncan (R – S.C.) introduced an amendment that would have stripped this misguided language from the bill.  During a floor speech in support of his amendment,  Rep. Duncan noted that “millions of Africans… object to this attack on their basic human right to sustainably use their natural resources on which their communities’ livelihoods depend.”  Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R – S.D.) also took to the floor noting that “this import prohibition would harm the economic development of African countries and put the wildlife and habitat in those countries at risk.”  Rep. Duncan’s amendment failed and this troubling anti-hunting language remains in the bill.  Removing this language is a priority of SCI’s as the U.S. Senate takes up consideration of this bill.

SCI continues to work against another provision adopted in the bill that seeks to undermine state wildlife management authority in Alaska.  The measure ignores Alaska’s proven, science-based wildlife management practices. The management of Alaska’s fish and wildlife resources should be left to those at the closest level, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It should not be undermined by bureaucrats in Washington D.C.. Eddie Grasser, the director of Wildlife Conservation for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, lays out the issue perfectly in a recently published op-ed.

Safari Club International continues to engage Congress to defeat these nefarious attempts to shutdown hunting to the detriment of conservation and communities and will provide updates as they develop.

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