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Safari Club International’s Legal Advocacy team works to promote and preserve hunting and sustainable use conservation in courts throughout the country. SCI is unique among hunting organizations for having in-house lawyers dedicated to defending hunting as a conservation tool and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

SCI has litigated dozens of cases throughout the United States and filed six briefs in six U.S. Supreme Court cases. These cases involve numerous domestic and international hunting-related issues. We work closely with state wildlife management agencies to defend state authority to regulate hunting, and we often participate in litigation jointly with like-minded organizations.

In addition to litigation, SCI works through the federal and state regulatory process to encourage actions that benefit hunting and wildlife conservation. Our lawyers submit comments in response to public input opportunities regarding federal and state regulations, policies, and resource management plans.

Each year at the SCI Convention, SCI attorneys and other guest leaders in the fields of hunting, firearms, and conservation present a highly rated continuing legal education course.

Contact the Legal Advocacy team for more information about our work.

Recent Litigation

Defending the removal of Louisiana black bears from threatened species list: The court dismissed the case because of SCI’s arguments. Because the bears are no longer listed under the Endangered Species Act, the State of Louisiana may choose, when appropriate, to implement a hunting program to manage the bear population.

Protecting personal hunter information: SCI successfully defended the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to withhold the personal identifying information of SCI members who imported trophies into the U.S. from disclosure to Humane Society International. At SCI’s recommendation, over 1,400 individuals and 180 businesses contacted the USFWS to withhold their information from disclosure. The district court dismissed Humane Society’s complaint in a decision based largely on SCI’s arguments.

Defending good-faith hunting errors against criminal prosecution: SCI successfully defended the U.S. Department of Justice’s policy not to criminally prosecute hunters who accidentally shoot federally protected species while lawfully hunting non-listed species.  The appellate court dismissed the case on one of the arguments that SCI championed in the lower court

Defending methods of take (hunting over bait) of black bears in Wyoming and Idaho: SCI seeks to intervene in a suit challenging a U.S. Forest Service policy which follows State law in allowing hunting of black bears over bait on certain National Forest lands. Plaintiffs seek to stop the use of baiting as a lawful means of hunting black bears.

Defending the adaptive phase-out of supplemental winter feeding on the National Elk Refuge: SCI and partner outfitters associations are defending the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to adaptively phase-out the supplemental feeding of elk and bison when winter forage on the refuge is otherwise unavailable. If the plaintiffs succeed in speeding up the planned reduction of feeding, many elk and bison will starve in Wyoming’s harsh winters.

Defending the issuance of permits to import elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe: SCI and the NRA successfully defended the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s issuance of permits to import elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe. As a result, the USFWS may continue to process import permit applications using a case-by-case approach.

Challenging the closure of black bear hunting on New Jersey state lands: Based on the Governor’s campaign promise, New Jersey closed black bear hunting on state-administered lands. SCI and partners are challenging that decision in an evidentiary proceeding to show that the closure violates the State’s black bear management policy. That policy relies on hunting to keep the bear population and human-bear conflicts in check. SCI has been involved in litigation related to black bear hunting in New Jersey for almost two decades.

Defending the delisting of Yellowstone grizzly bears: SCI and the NRA are defending the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 delisting of grizzly bears around Yellowstone National Park. A favorable outcome will return management of the bears to Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, and allow those states to implement hunting programs to manage bear populations where appropriate. SCI has defended the USFWS’s efforts to delist these grizzly bears for over ten years.

Challenging hunting restrictions in Alaska: SCI sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service to remove restrictions on certain hunting practices on National Wildlife Refuges and National Preserves in Alaska. Our suit helped encourage the NPS to lift most of the challenged restrictions through regulation.

Challenging National Park Service regulations on rivers in Alaska: SCI filed three amicus briefs in the Supreme Court in support of SCI member John Sturgeon’s challenge to a rule that restricted activities on non-federal waters in Alaska. The U.S. Supreme Court twice ruled in Sturgeon’s favor, and the NPS is proposing to revise its regulations in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision.

Defending the state-authorized use of lead ammunition in Kaibab National Forest: Since 2012, SCI and the NRA have defended the U.S. Forest Service’s deference to Arizona’s regulation of lead ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest against a novel challenge by animal rights groups. This suit seeks to extend the reach of a federal law that is intended to regulate solid and hazardous waste.

SCI regularly files public comments regarding hunting issues, such as:

  • Comments in support of the proposed removal of gray wolves in the lower 48 States from the Endangered Species Act list
  • Comments in support of the expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities across National Wildlife Refuges around the country
  • Comments in support of applications to import bontebok and black rhino trophies from Africa
  • Comments in support of revisions to simplify and streamline regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act
  • Comments related to revisions to Florida’s black bear management plan and in support of the use of hunting as a tool to manage the state’s growing black bear population
  • Comments in support of the use of hunting as a tool to manage grizzly bear population growth submitted to the Montana Grizzly Bear Advisory Council
  • Comments encouraging the National Park Service to rely on skilled volunteer hunters to control the Tule elk population on the Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Comments on proposed revisions to regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act
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