Last week was an important one for American hunters, conservation policy, and African wildlife management. Here’s a full recap:
On the 17th, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Martha Williams to be the next Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Of highest concern to SCI and hunters across the country is a policy of No-Net-Loss of federal public hunting access. SCI is fully supportive of measures that increase hunting access as well, such as the recent 2.1 million acre expansion on National Wildlife Refuges. While the specific issue of No-Net-Loss was not asked of Ms. Williams, several questions regarding the importance of state management were discussed. As SCI continues to fight for a No-Net-Loss commitment, here are 5 questions every hunter should be asking of Martha Williams.
Also on the 17th, the Alaska Federal Subsistence Board held a public hearing on the potential closure of tens of millions of acres of hunting access for moose and caribou to anyone who does not live in the immediate area of Units 23 and 26A. SCI provided comments in the hearing opposing Wildlife Special Action (WSA) 21-01 as we continue to fight for No-Net-Loss in Alaska. SCI fully supports the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in their opposition of this proposal and joins with them in recognizing that the proposed closure would be in direct contrast to federal law and inconsistent with recent USFWS expansions of hunting access on other federal lands. There will be an additional public hearing on December 2, 2021, and SCI encourages individuals to OPPOSE this request by signing SCI’s No-Net-Loss petition!
Finally, On the 18th, the House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans held an International Conservation Forum with witnesses the Honorable Tadeous Chifamba, ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe; Dr. Maurus Msuha, director of wildlife, Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism; and Ms. Maxi Pia Louis, director, Namibian Association of Community-Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations.
The forum highlighted the African perspective of wildlife conservation and management, particularly the role of international hunters. As evidenced by these witnesses, overwhelming scientific data, and community perspectives, international hunting is an irreplaceable component of habitat protection and wildlife conservation. The countries with well-managed hunting have the highest populations of hunted and non-hunted species, in addition to the largest successfully managed protected areas. Most importantly, local communities and African governments both benefit from international hunting and are the only ones who should be regulating African wildlife. As The Dean of the House Rep. Don Young put it, “If you don’t manage wildlife, you don’t have wildlife.”
Ranking Member Westerman Stated: “It may seem counterintuitive to those not familiar with our North American hunting heritage, but legal hunting practices in our country have led to dramatic turnarounds in game and non-game species populations… Although game laws are not identical in Africa, the same results have occurred in parts of that continent where hunters and their investments have incentivized the conservation of wildlife and their habitats. In the countries where many of the African big-game species are hunted, they are far from extinct. Instead, they hold most of these animals and the populations are growing because of conservation and habitat funded by hunters.
Stay tuned for further legislative updates on these and many other issues! To stay up to date on all our efforts, sign up for the Hunter Advocacy Action Center.