SCI officials have learned that their Director of Legal Advocacy and International Affairs, Anna Seidman, has been selected to be the first recipient of the Gary Taylor Memorial Award.
The award has been established by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to recognize a distinguished individual for outstanding achievement in the field of public conservation policy, specifically related to state fish and wildlife agency jurisdiction over fish and wildlife management. It will be presented at the Association’s Annual Awards Banquet in September.
The award is named after Gary Taylor, an ardent crusader for the role that state’s play in the management of America’s fish and wildlife resources and for fish, wildlife and natural resource laws and policies that have a significant influence or effect on states’ management of their public trust resources. He was dedicated to protecting, defending and preserving the authority of the state fish and wildlife agencies and supporting their agency missions by working on federal policies and laws that facilitate the implementation of science-based conservation on the ground in concert with their partners and constituents.
Nominations were open to any current or former state fish and wildlife agency employee or commissioner, associated members of legal counsel, and employee of a nongovernmental conservation organization who has demonstrated an affinity for and a deep understanding of the issues surrounding state fish and wildlife agency management of fish and wildlife resources and has contributed significantly to maintaining and improving fish and wildlife conservation policies and laws with a similar passion, pursuit, and dedication as the award’s namesake.
SCI is proud to announce that Anna Seidman is the recipient of this distinguished award.
Anna is the Director of Legal Advocacy and International Affairs for SCI. She has served as SCI’s lead litigation counsel since April of 1999.
From the very first case that she litigated on behalf of Safari Club International (SCI), Anna Seidman has demonstrated her commitment to supporting the authority of states to manage wildlife. In 1999, when Alaska’s state wildlife management agency was unable to file its own lawsuit to challenge illegalities in the federal government’s administration of subsistence hunting priorities, Ms. Seidman pursued litigation on behalf of SCI that attacked the federal government’s willful disregard of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s authority and obligation to manage state wildlife for the benefit and use of all Alaska hunters. During her work on that case, Ms. Seidman developed her understanding of the role of state wildlife management authority in providing hunting opportunities and in conserving wildlife.
That case was only the beginning of Ms. Seidman’s efforts to recognize and support state wildlife management authority. In case after case, over the last twenty years of her practice as a wildlife lawyer for SCI, Ms. Seidman has repeatedly promoted and defended state authority to manage, conserve, and facilitate regulated hunting of wildlife, including wildlife residing on federal lands. For example, on behalf of SCI, Ms. Seidman has litigated numerous cases regarding the delisting and return to state management of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes and the Northern Rocky Mountains. During the period that the Western Great Lakes wolves were returned to state management, Ms. Seidman led SCI’s litigation efforts to defend against challenges to Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s wolf hunting regulations. In particular, in Minnesota, SCI’s amicus brief drafted by Ms. Seidman and oral argument presented in Minnesota state court by Ms. Seidman, persuaded the court to dismiss the challenge filed by anti-hunting groups to Minnesota’s process for adopting hunting regulations. Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Minnesota Dep't of Nat. Res., No. A12-1680, 2013 WL 2301951 (Minn. Ct. App. May 28, 2013).
Ms. Seidman has brought her conviction to support state management of wildlife to courts and public forums throughout the country. Through her leadership and guidance SCI has participated in numerous cases in New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Florida, each to defend state black bear hunting programs.
In 2016, through Ms. Seidman’s leadership, SCI filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) when it issued a final experimental population rule for Mexican wolves. The case that Ms. Seidman developed to challenge the experimental population rule was focused on the fact that the FWS illegally revised the Mexican wolf regulation without the agreement of the State of New Mexico’s wildlife management authorities.
In 2017, again through Ms. Seidman’s leadership, SCI filed suit against the FWS and the National Park Service to challenge both agencies’ promulgation of regulations that directly conflicted with Alaska hunting regulations and that undermined the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s obligation to provide sustained yield to Alaska hunters.
In 2018, when the State of Wyoming sought the assistance of the hunting community in defending against the treaty right assertions of Clayton Herrera, Ms. Seidman recommended and received the approval from SCI’s leadership for SCI to file an amicus brief to support Wyoming’s management authority. SCI’s brief to the U.S. Supreme Court focused on the importance of Wyoming’s state management authority over wildlife to ensure the availability of wildlife resources for all Wyoming hunters.
Ms. Seidman recognizes that SCI’s participation (and/or the participation of hunters and organizations representing hunters) in litigation involving state wildlife management authority can be helpful, but at other times can potentially undermine state litigation strategies. For this reason, she makes it a practice to confer with state wildlife attorneys to obtain their input about the impact of SCI’s involvement in litigation as a component of developing her recommendations to SCI as to whether SCI should seek involvement in the litigation.
Ms. Seidman’s efforts to support state management authority are not restricted to the court room. She recognizes that without the sound management decisions of state wildlife management agencies, the members of SCI and those of the general hunting community would be unable to participate in hunting and in the management and conservation strategies of state wildlife management authorities. For that reason, several years ago, she instituted the SCI Western Directors Forum. Each year, Ms. Seidman invites the directors of western state wildlife management agencies to participate in a panel discussion at the SCI Hunters’ Convention. This forum has provided both the directors and SCI members with an opportunity to discuss key issues and concerns regarding hunting, wildlife management, law enforcement and the interaction of hunters and agency officials.
Ms. Seidman also understands how important it is for the non-governmental community to work with state wildlife management agencies and to develop an open and candid flow of dialog between the state agencies and the hunting organizations. For that reason, in 2017 she facilitated a retreat for AFWA’s Executive Committee at the SCI Foundation AWLS Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming. That retreat gave AFWA’s Executive Committee an opportunity to meet, share common concerns and problems and compare management strategies.
Ms. Seidman had tremendous esteem for the late Gary Taylor, in whose name AFWA has identified the award for which SCI has nominated Ms. Seidman. In discussions about Gary Taylor, Ms. Seidman explained that “Gary was always generous with his time and expertise. Whenever I reached out to Gary for help, he made time for my questions and even when he did not have the precise answer, his guidance generally led me in the direction I needed to find the right answer.” Ms. Seidman has done her best to follow that example and attempts to volunteer her time and legal knowledge to help solve each problem that poses an obstacle to states having the ability to provide regulated, sustainable-use-oriented management of wildlife. Most recently, for example, Ms. Seidman volunteered to lead the drafting of the latest version of the chapter of “Wildlife for the 21 Century” entitled Achieve Greater Conservation of Wildlife Species Through Better Cooperation Between State and Federal Agencies and Modernization of the Endangered Species Act. This document, prepared by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners for each new administration, provides a set of wildlife management-related priorities to be addressed by each incoming administration.
As her expertise is in the law, Ms. Seidman also attempts to provide as much assistance as she is able to the AFWA and WAFWA Legal Committees and has given presentations at the majority of the meetings of these two committees during the last decade. As one of the more senior members of the Legal Committees, Ms. Seidman attempts to share her experiences in litigating the issues that are common to many states. She also makes it her goal to make her presentations amusing, entertaining and hopefully memorable.
One of Ms. Seidman’s most passionate goals, and one that she shared with the late Gary Taylor, was to assist AFWA in developing a legislative “Savings Clause” that would better ensure federal agency deference to state wildlife management authority over wildlife on federal land. Ms. Seidman has given numerous presentations on proposed Savings Clause language to be included in federal legislation and has worked with state agency attorneys and AFWA personnel to help promote improved Savings Clause language in future legislative vehicles. She looks forward to achieving success on this issue.
Anna has also received the Safari Club International President’s Award on three occasions.