On May 23, Safari Club International (SCI) Guide and Outfitter Liaison Scott Talbott attended the annual meeting of the Nevada Outfitter and Guides Association in Winnemucca, Nevada, to discuss how SCI’s advocacy efforts are addressing the greatest issues affecting hunters and the outfitting business today.
Talbot reported on the issues SCI and its members took to Congress during Lobby Day on May 11, 2023. Among the issues of highest interest to guide-outfitters was Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform, with discussions on how the ESA has or has not been applied and the importance of state management for recovered species. Two examples of this are the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear and the Great Lakes wolf. ESA protection remains for both populations well after they have recovered and despite continuing to exceed all delisting criteria and expanding outside their designated habitats. The affected states have clearly demonstrated the commitment to manage these species scientifically and financially and have all the necessary regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure the long-term viability of these populations. ESA protections should be removed.
The group discussed trophy bans at state and federal levels and the many negative impacts they have on hunters and hunting. State and federal governments should rely on the scientific management of species in the jurisdiction of origin rather than ban the possession of legally collected specimens by hunters taking trophies home to their resident states. Talbott also explained how SCI has opposed anti-conservation bills such as the RETURN Act, which would repeal the Pittman-Robertson Act and defund the most successful conservation model in the world. The excise taxes on shooting supplies by Pittman-Robertson have resulted in the restoration and conservation of many wildlife species, not just hunted game species.
Talbot also presented on hunting access issues, the need to manage wildlife populations and the need to ensure lead shot remains available to hunters unless there is scientific evidence justifying the banning of lead bullets and shot.
There was also considerable discussion regarding the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed Conservation and Landscape Health rule and the impact this may have on guide-outfitters, hunting and other commercial uses of our public lands. Talbott urged hunting professions to attend the public BLM meetings in their state regarding this proposed rule and submit their comments. This proposal has the potential to significantly impact hunters and hunting with devastating results for those whose livelihoods depend on the commercial activities associated with hunting.
Additionally, there was much discussion and concern expressed by the group regarding the increasing number of wild horses on public lands, the damage caused to habitats and the negative impact on the wildlife species that depend on those habitats. Outfitter-guides want to see more accountability in the management of wild horse populations, which in many cases far exceed the established Appropriate Management Level. How to deal with the overpopulation of wild horses and how to instill accountability in the management of wild horse populations throughout the West was discussed. Excessive wild horse populations continue to destroy valuable wildlife habitats in many western states. This has been an issue for decades and needs to be addressed in a sustainable and fiscally responsible manner.