More hunter access. More opportunities for hunters everywhere. If that sounds enticing, it might be time to support an organization fighting for your rights.
You say you enjoy hunting black bears, or some day would like that opportunity? How about a chance at hunting a wolf in the Lower 48, and helping ensure your favorite public-land haunts for elk, deer and more will remain accessible to you and your children, and on into the future? Hunting success rates have always been tied to plenty of opportunity, and supporting a hunter-first organization like Safari Club International by becoming a member is a way all of us can positively impact hunting’s future—and help in the fight to preserve and even expand our own precious hunting opportunities, as well as support future hunter recruitment. The fact is, SCI has been fighting for hunter access and hunter rights for many decades; this year the venerable organization is celebrating its 50th anniversary, an accomplishment all hunters should be applauding. HuntStand certainly is; Team HuntStand feels so strongly about SCI and its mission that it inked a partnership deal with SCI last August to become its official hunting and land management application. Under the multi-year agreement, SCI members receive discounts on HuntStand Pro membership subscriptions and printed maps, and HuntStand also has committed to providing additional financial support to further SCI’s efforts to being First for Hunters.Like many organizations in the hunting arena, the past few decades have not been without challenges for SCI, and even today the 50,000-plus-strong organization with about 200 chapters representing all 50 states, continues to battle the stigma that many of its members are wealthy elitists interested only in high-dollar international hunts for far-flung exotic species—but the record shows otherwise. There are plenty of examples of SCI leading the charge in hunter-access issues and critical hunter recruitment right here in the good old U.S.A.—local initiatives of which hunters everywhere can be proud.The Truth About Wolves. Back in October 2020, After 45 years of protection, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its decision to delist the gray wolf from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It was one of America’s greatest conservation success stories finally receiving the recognition and celebration it deserved, and few organizations had been more closely involved with the issue of wolf delisting than SCI. For almost 20 years, SCI had gone to court to advocate for state management of wolves. The SCI Foundation has also been active on wolf-related research, providing hundreds of thousands of private dollars to leverage millions of state and provincial dollars dedicated to improving the scientific understanding of wolf ecology and population dynamics in Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming.
“Wolves deserve to be managed by the very best science available to ensure that their populations are sustainable into the future,” said Jim Hammill, chairman of SCIF’s Conservation Committee and a retired biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “There is no question that wolves are recovered in nearly all of their suitable remaining range. State wildlife agencies have the expertise and ultimate responsibility for management of this iconic species.”SCI reports that it will continue supporting the transition of wolf management to the states, and will continue to advocate for hunting as a management tool for wolves. As has been proven with other predator species, hunting can effectively manage population numbers, reduce conflicts with humans and livestock, and provide incentives for landowner tolerance while funding the science-based North American model of conservation.How About Black Bear Hunting? Pre-global pandemic, many outdoorsmen and women traveled regularly to Canada each spring and fall to partake in the stellar bear hunting to be found in the remote stretches of several provinces there—hunting that likely will continue sooner rather than later as border-crossing restrictions relax. But black bear hunting has seen its recent struggles in the Lower 48, something SCI knows all too well. Thankfully, the U.S. also has seen some recent black bear hunting successes, and if you look closely you’ll find SCI’s fingerprints were solidly in the mix.
In late January 2021, SCI was quick to report that California Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) had introduced Senate Bill 252, the Bear Protection Act. If enacted, the legislation would have instituted an outright ban on California black bear hunting. But with SCI’s help, and quick action that included mobilizing members to action and contacting Senator Weiner, Governor Newsom, and several other lawmakers in California on January 28th, the threat was thwarted. SCI’s opposing letter to the legislators offered keen insight into the current status of the California bear population, detailing how the species was not endangered but in fact thriving, as well as pointing out the many pitfalls of unchecked bear population growth, and the potential negative impact on the state economy that would come with the loss of future bear hunting license sales. After SCI and others voiced their strong, fact-filled opposition, the bill was withdrawn less than a week after its introduction.Yet another black bear hunting victory was logged recently for U.S. hunters in Missouri. For a bit of perspective there, the last successful bear hunt in Missouri is believed to have been in 1931. The opportunity for the next successful bear hunt in Missouri will officially be this fall; Missouri’s inaugural new 10-day bear hunting season is set for October of 2021.
Zone-specific permits will be issued in a random drawing, and hunters will have an option to use firearms or bows. According to state bear biologists, hunting will be an essential part of the states’ bear management plans moving forward. Despite concerted efforts from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to stop the hunt, both bears and bear hunters prevailed in this story thanks in part to Safari Club, which submitted a formal letter applauding the The Missouri Department of Conservation’s commitment to the role hunting plays in scientifically driven wildlife management strategies, and provided resources to help members in Missouri navigate the submission process for public input.Wolf and black bear hunting are certainly top of mind these days with some very recent milestones, but make no mistake, SCI has been and continues to be a leading advocate for all huntable North American species. SCI has had a long history of actively funding critical research for a wide variety of species including the whitetail, America’s number-one big game animal.
Are you ready to support SCI’s work to preserve and protect hunters’ rights and preserve and expand hunter access today and on into the future? Joining SCI today will go a long way toward helping preserve and protect our hunting heritage for years to come.