Legislative Fall Deep Dive

With Congress Back in session following the August recess, SCI advocacy has put together a list of priorities for hunters and the nuts and bolts of federal legislation. Read about hunters education and archery in schools; the Endangered Species Act; trophy bans; the U.S. Foundation for International Conservation; and traditional ammunition below! 

Department of Education: This summer, the Department of Education announced their misinterpretation of an amendment passed in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act resulting in the withholding of Elementary and Secondary Education Act funds for hunter and archery education courses in schools. Since then, there has been broad, bipartisan condemnation of the ruling in Congress.

Safari Club has supported multiple Congressional efforts to push back on this ruling, including the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act introduced by Rep. Mark Green and Rep. Richard Hudson, which creates a carveout for archery, hunting, and shooting sports in any funding restriction. We have also supported Senator Barrasso’ ARROW Act, which creates a broader carveout for “sports clubs, teams, training, or related activities provided for students.” We believe Congress can do more to address the issue and will continue to engage members on the issue. 

ESA: After a busy summer for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in Congress that included a House Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries oversight hearing on its destructive cost, SCI looks forward to carrying momentum through the end of the year. House Resources Committee Chairman and former SCI Legislator of the Year Bruce Westerman has formed a joint ESA Working Group with the Congressional Western Caucus to examine the ESA’s implementation, and SCI will continue to work with those members and the rest of Congress to identify the best ways to address the ESA’s critical issues that are actively harming the very conservation concerns it originally sought to address. SCI also hosted a Lunch & Learn on the ESA and suggested “fixes” for Hill staff this summer; we look forward to continued engagement on this issue, as well as hosting events for our other priorities. 

This summer, SCI has given our support to the Grizzly Bear Review and Resource Restart “Grrr” Act in the House and Senate, led by Senator Jim Risch along with Senators Mike Crapo and Cynthia Lummis and Congressman Russ Fulcher, respectively. This legislation would fully delist the grizzly bear in the lower 48 states from the Endangered Species List (ESA). 

Trophy Bans: Federal proposals to limit the importation of legally harvested hunting trophies are based on the erroneous belief that prohibiting imports will benefit wildlife conservation. But well-regulated hunting is vital to biodiversity conservation and species survival in southern Africa and around the world. Hunting programs, especially those involving rural communities in conservation and management, are proven tools to sustain both species and habitat. It is no coincidence that the world’s largest populations of elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, and many more species inhabit the countries where they are hunted. This year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a proposal that would increase restrictions on the import of sport-hunted elephants and likely result in a ban on elephant imports from several range states. SCI submitted public comment opposing this rule on March 22nd and will continue to engage with Congressional offices on legislative action to remedy the issue. 

USFICA: This bill, the United States Foundation for International Conservation Act (USFICA) will further enhance global conservation efforts by leveraging public-private partnerships, empowering local communities, expanding habitat buffer zones, and promoting sustainable use of natural resources. The bill’s 1:1 public-private funding formula will advance efficient and dynamic conservation projects beyond federal bureaucracy while boosting current government and NGO efforts. 

Lead Ammunition: As the Fish and Wildlife Service continues to create new rules banning the use of lead ammunition on public lands, Senator Steve Daines once again reintroduced the Protecting Hunters and Anglers Act, which would prevent the Service from banning lead ammo on public land. Congressman Rob Whittman is the lead on the House version of this bill, picking it up from Bruce Westerman as he assumed Chairmanship of the House Resources Committee. That language was also included in the House Interior Appropriations bill, which has passed out of committee and is before the full House for a vote. It is unlikely that the House and Senate will be able to agree on a negotiated appropriations package.