June 26, 2009 "In The Crosshairs"

In The Crosshairs Newsletter

June 26, 2009

SCI Lion
SCI Prevails in Early Polar Bear Import Ruling

Safari Club International achieved an early victory in litigation challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ban on the import of polar bears from Canada. On June 22, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rebuffed the FWS’s attempt to have SCI’s lawsuit dismissed without full briefing on the merits.

When the FWS listed the polar bear as threatened in May 2008, it also determined that imports of polar bear legally hunted from approved populations in Canada would no longer be allowed, as they had been for the previous 12 years. SCI sued to reverse this determination. The FWS argued that it had not made a final decision, the ban did not harm SCI, and the case should be dismissed. The Court rejected the government’s arguments in their totality. The Court found that the import ban determination was a challengeable final action and that SCI had alleged sufficiently that the import ban injured SCI and its members.

Since the import ban went into effect, hunting of polar bears by U.S. hunters has plummeted and trophies of bears hunted before the ban went into effect sit in cold storage in Canada. The conservation benefits provided by U.S. hunters and the funds they inject into the local communities have dried up. Yet polar bear mortality remains the same under the quota to the native communities, as bears not harvested for sport hunts are harvested for subsistence.

The case now proceeds to full briefing on the merits of all of SCI claims. SCI is also pursuing a separate challenge to the listing of the polar bear itself.

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SCI Talks Wildlife Conservation and Hunter Advocacy on Youtube.com

SCI posted a great informational video at YouTube.com. SCI encourages you to share this video with your friends, colleagues, fellow hunters and non-hunters. SCI and SCI Foundation’s very active work for wildlife conservation, wildlife education and hunter advocacy is a story that all, hunters and non-hunters alike need to learn. The work of hunters, the most active conservationists in North America should be recognized by all. SCI hopes this video will help you communicate why SCI is First For Hunters!

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Court Ruling Strikes A Blow To Antelope Conservation

On June 22nd a federal court ruled that a regulation governing the management of captive herds of three exotic antelope species is in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The law had created a blanket exception for U.S. captive herds of scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle and addax from take prohibitions generally applied to endangered species. Since the three antelope species have all but disappeared from the wild in their home ranges in Northern Africa, the vast majority of the animals now live on private ranches in the United States. The ranchers' ability to trade and to allow hunting of these animals has made it possible for the species to flourish and there are now thousands of these antelope privately owned in Texas and other U.S. states. The court's ruling states that take prohibitions cannot be generally exempted and that permits to hunt and otherwise take members of the three species must be applied for on an individual, case by case basis. Contrary to statements put out by the animal rights groups that brought the suit to challenge the law, the judge did not find that hunting of the three species or that hunting of endangered species for enhancement of survival is illegal under the ESA. The court directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take further action in accordance with his ruling. SCI will provide updates on this issue as they become available. MORE…

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SCI Opposes Proposed Expansion of Lead Ammo Ban in Condor Range

Safari Club International filed comments opposing proposed regulations by the California Fish and Game Commission that would extend the current lead ammunition ban for big game hunting in so-called condor “range” to the hunting of small game and upland birds in these areas. SCI’s comments agreed with the finding of the California Fish and Game Department that the extension of the ban was not supported by the science. Hunters must retrieve small game and upland birds and there is no evidence that condors feed on the carcasses of species in the wild in any significant manner. SCI also pointed out the adverse impact ammunition bans have on hunter participation and recruitment. A representative for SCI’s California Chapters attended the Commission’s hearing on this issue on June 24 and 25. The Commission is scheduled vote on whether to adopt the proposed regulations at a hearing on August 6, 2009. You can submit written comments ahead of the hearing, preferably by July 31, and testify at the hearing. For more information, click here (Methods Authorized for Taking Upland Game in the Condor Range).

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SCI Granted Intervention Status in Defense of Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Delisting

SCI has been granted permission to intervene in defense of the delisting of Montana and Idaho's wolves. The challenge to the delisting was filed in federal court in Montana on June 2nd by 13 animal rights groups. For the time being, the wolves of Montana and Idaho will remain off the endangered species list and their management will be under the authority of the state fish and game agencies. This marks the seventh case in which SCI has participated to defend the delisting of recovered gray wolves.