Safari Club International (SCI) recently hosted the organization’s first-ever Virtual Advocacy Week – a digital spin on the traditional Washington D.C. fly-in and annual Lobby Day. The series of events included an impressive lineup of speakers and guests providing SCI members with unprecedented opportunities to engage elected officials on timely legislative and regulatory issues that directly impact the hunting community, which attendees did in record-breaking numbers.
“Safari Club International was joined by two sitting United States Senators, a Member of Canadian Parliament, the Deputy Secretary of the Interior and other conservation experts for a week full of engagement opportunities for their members,” said SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin. “SCI stands alone in connecting its members with high-ranking government officials during the global pandemic and facilitating conversations on the most important issues impacting sportsmen and women. Our members engaged on three extremely timely issue areas and helped move the needle through record-breaking numbers on our Hunter Advocacy Action Center.”
In addition to live guests, dozens of members of Congress from across the country provided videos addressing SCI members and discussing issues of importance to hunters in their states. Several grassroots campaigns through the Hunter Advocacy Action Center (HAAC) were also incorporated into the week’s events, with SCI members from across the country voicing support for issues like the Great American Outdoors Act and the Department of Interior’s plans to expand hunting and fishing opportunities and access on millions of acres of public lands. SCI members also pushed back against anti-hunting legislation like the CECIL Act.
The Great American Outdoors Act will be voted on by the Senate next week, and during Tuesday’s seminar, two of the bill’s primary sponsors, Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), provided SCI members with information about the importance of this historic legislation. This bill would represent the most significant step that Congress has taken for access, conservation, and sportsmen and women in decades. SCI members have already sent thousands of emails supporting this legislation and continue to engage through the HAAC.
The Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Kate MacGregor, was featured in Thursday’s live session. She provided updates about the Department’s proposal to open more than 2.3 million acres of access at 97 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries across the country to new hunting and fishing opportunities. The deadline to submit comments is this Monday, June 8th, and SCI members have already filed hundreds of public comments in support.
SCI’s federal advocacy efforts highlighted anti-hunting legislation that House Democrats are expected to bring to the floor for a vote in the near future. The anti-hunting, anti-conservation CECIL Act is an ill-conceived attempt to manage wildlife populations through emotion instead of science. It would derail proven wildlife management strategies in Africa that sustain the world’s largest populations of lions, elephants, and other species. Thousands of SCI members have already made their voices heard and pushed back against this legislation, and those efforts will continue until the bill is laid to rest.
SCI’s Virtual Advocacy Week included several international elements as well, with Torbjörn Larsson, President of the European Federation for Hunting & Conservation (FACE), participating in a live question and answer session with SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin. Mr. Larsson focused on his organization’s work across the European continent to ensure that hunting remains beneficial for hunters, society, and nature. The program also included an in-depth interview with Member of Canadian Parliament and Chair of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus Bob Zimmer. The conversation focused on a variety of issues including the recent action taken by Prime Minister Trudeau to ban possession of many firearms, the prohibition of grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia, and other areas of importance to the Canadian hunting community.
Safari Club International is first for hunters when it comes to fighting for hunters’ freedoms in Washington, D.C. and around the world, and SCI members led the charge this week.