April 13, 2022
Following its successful 50th annual convention in Las Vegas in January, Safari Club International (SCI) has hit 2022 running, with a renewed and enhanced focus on protecting the nation’s hunting heritage and promoting wildlife conservation across the globe.
Formed when Safari Club of Southern California evolved into Safari Club of Los Angeles in 1971 and then merged with Safari Club Chicago, SCI has grown over the past half-century into an international organization with approximately 50,000 members and 200 chapters representing all 50 states and 100-plus countries.
Over the past 20-plus years, SCI — via its foundation — has helped put more than $70 million hunter dollars into 100-plus conservation projects and education programs in 30 countries. In the U.S., SCI has a team of lobbyists, legal experts and others in Washington, D.C. and reportedly administers the largest hunter-led Political Action Committee (PAC) in the country, all in an effort to promote and support legislation, legislators, initiatives and programs favorable to sportsmen and wildlife conservation.
One of SCI’s primary focuses in the coming months will be the nation’s mid-term elections, with SCI supporting and providing assistance to pro-hunting candidates for U.S. Congress and elsewhere.
“Thanks to the generosity of SCI members and the contributions that were made to SCI-PAC and HAF (SCI Hunter Action Fund) during the convention, at SCI chapter fundraisers and through personal communication, SCI is poised to have an effect on the upcoming elections…,” said SCI President Sven K. Lindquist recently.
“The SCI advocacy work in Washington, D.C. is one of the cornerstones of our great organization,” Lindquist continued. “The SCI Washington, D.C. office building is also on a corner and serves as a cornerstone for a prominent SCI presence in our nation’s capital. This presence is what greatly sets SCI apart from other like-minded organizations.”
Other initiatives SCI continues to work on include efforts studying the impact that expanding predator populations have on various game species, opposing the challenges to the federal delisting of the gray wolf, growing its Beyond Becoming an Outdoors Woman program and continuing to promote and defend hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands.
In March, SCI joined nearly two dozen other hunting and conservation organizations in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, asking the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to appeal a U.S District Court decision that vacated the 2020 federal rule removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although that 2020 rule delisted gray wolves in the lower 48 states, a lawsuit filed by several groups challenged the ruling, with a federal court in the Northern District of California ruling earlier this year in favor of the plaintiffs, resulting in wolves going back on the ESA list. That means it’s now up to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service whether to challenge the district court ruling.
“Gray wolf populations have been increasing the last 20 years and demonstrate an Endangered Species Act success story,” noted SCI on its website in March. “Now that the gray wolf is in no way endangered, it is time for the (U.S. Fish & Wildlife) Service to allocate funding to other much more vulnerable species.
“The best available science supports the delisting of the gray wolf, and the decision in California prevents species from being delisted even when they have fully recovered. Additionally, removal from the Endangered Species List simply means that federal resources are not used for conservation, and that management is returned to state agencies — which they are fully capable of in the case of the gray wolf.”
More recently, SCI has been helping to raise awareness of the Federal Subsistence Board’s proposed closing of federal lands in two Game Management Units (23 and 26A) in Northwest Alaska to moose and caribou hunting, except for qualified subsistence hunters, from Aug. 1-Sept. 30, 2022. SCI’s efforts are part of its No Net Loss focus on protecting existing hunting and fishing access opportunities on public lands.
“This high-handed decision (by the Federal Subsistence Board) will result in thousands of Alaska residents and nonresident hunters losing access to hunting moose and caribou,” SCI said. “This proposal fails to fulfill the principal requirement to demonstrate the ‘significant change in resources’ threshold to cut off hunting access to thriving moose and caribou herds in these massive tracts of land.”
SCI’s strong track record of supporting hunters and conservation efforts, coupled with its continued chapter and membership growth, have the organization well positioned to continue serving as a leading voice for sportsmen for decades to come.
The 2023 SCI convention will take place Feb. 22-25 in Nashville, Tenn. For more information on SCI and its programs, visit safariclub.org.