Like many SCI members, I fly to far-off destinations to hunt — a lot. At least, I used to. These days, if I’m hunting within a two-day drive of my home in southern Arizona, I drive. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of Continue reading Flying The Not-So-Friendly Skies
In an article published in The Hill’s Congress Blog July 22, SCI President Larry Higgins discussed recent airline embargoes of hunting trophy shipments, and how those actions have far-reaching consequences.
That article states:
Foreign airlines want Open Skies but are closing to hunters
By Larry Higgins
It may seem counterintuitive, but the U.S. government recognizes that well-regulated hunting benefits wildlife. Why? Hunters are conservationists. The funds that hunters pay in taxes, permits and fees go directly toward the conservation of wildlife and habitat. That money – record sums in the past few years – is shared with state agencies for management of all wildlife, not just game species.
Hunters’ dollars go much farther into the economy as well. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has estimated that hunters spend more than $38 billion annually in the United States, and support more than 680,000 jobs. These economic principles also apply to hunting abroad, and that’s why many countries welcome the influx of dollars that traveling hunters bring into foreign nations.
Anti-hunting zealots are nonetheless pushing the corporate world to adopt policies that would discourage hunting. Under pressure from online petitions, several international airlines have recently announced arbitrary decisions to cease the shipment of legally hunted game specimens.
Let’s be clear. This is not limited to illegal trafficking. The airlines have explicitly said they will refuse all legal shipments. They are denying service to lawful hunters who have followed every rule and regulation. It’s the equivalent of a restaurant deciding it won’t serve alcohol to any patron, in order to ensure that no one under age is served.
Those who seek to take animals outside the law are not hunters – they’re poachers. Legal hunters observe every rule and regulation. Poaching is the illegal taking of an animal. SCI believes that convicted poachers should be penalized as harshly as the law allows. But to truly protect and preserve species throughout the globe for future generations, penalties should be focused on those breaking the law, not people following the law.
The corporate executives making these decisions may believe that they are helping to combat wildlife poaching. But just the opposite is true. The snap decisions being made by the airlines defy the science-based wildlife management strategies that have been deployed by the U.S. government for decades.
For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will only issue import permits for elephants and rhinos when they determine that hunting for the species is well-regulated, sustainable and benefits conservation of the species in general. In other words, the FWS approves import permits only when hunting will benefit the species. By denying cargo carriage to hunters who hold such permits, the airlines are effectively saying that they know better. But, clearly, airline executives are not equipped to make such decisions.
The consequences extend beyond wildlife management. Should these cargo embargos remain in place, fewer hunters will travel to Africa, and those communities will lose critical tourism and conservation revenue. When corporations adopt policies that discourage hunters from traveling, they jeopardize the funding on which many communities have come to depend.
Some of the foreign airlines that have adopted these anti-hunting policies are the same ones clamoring for Open Skies. SCI has historically taken no position in aviation disputes, but that may have to change if foreign airlines continue to exhibit such cultural disdain for paying customers who are in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. SCI is also appreciative of Delta Airlines, which has come under pressure from this campaign. In response, Delta has said simply that it will continue to accept hunting trophies in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations. That’s all a hunter can ask for.
Poaching will not be solved by corporate policies that treat hunters as criminals. Hunters know very well which countries and companies welcome their business, and they will not patronize businesses and communities that adopt anti-hunting policies. When airlines cave to anti-hunting groups, they are jeopardizing not only their own customer base, but also the funding that travelers inject into the communities that the airlines serve.
Numerous laws and international treaties regulate the international management of wildlife. The airlines are not equipped to make policy decisions that supersede this carefully balanced management system. Pandering to anti-hunting zealots may seem “progressive,” but the airlines are effectively allowing anti-hunting groups to impose their agenda on all paying customers.
The airlines need to understand that their decisions can have disastrous consequences on the very funding that’s necessary to conserve the wildlife that we all care about, as well as the other businesses that depend on the tourism dollars that hunters bring. The world’s airlines should leave wildlife management to the experts, and refrain from intervening in issues where misguided actions will do more harm than good.
Friends over at Esplanade Travel dropped us a note this morning letting us know that they’ve helped clear up some issues with Air New Zealand regarding additional charges when checking firearms.
Their note reads in part:
We are so happy to write this letter–Air New Zealand has reversed their new firearms policy, effective immediately!
Over the past few weeks, you may have heard about the recent changes made by Air New Zealand to their firearms policy. The staff at Esplanade Travel were surprised and angered last week to learn of Air New Zealand’s new plan to charge for firearms, in addition to baggage, because the reasoning behind the charge was completely incorrect. The original decision for the charge was made at Air New Zealand headquarters, but they neglected to advise anyone else of the new policy, including Air New Zealand staff based in Los Angeles. Hunters were surprised at the airport by unexpected charges. Esplanade met with Air New Zealand staff last week and demanded that they call a meeting at the highest level to review this policy. Thankfully, they took our advice and, as of last night, the decision was made to reverse the policy immediately.
This note just received from our Air New Zealand sales director who is very pro-hunting: ‘Jacky, I’m proud to acknowledge that as a direct result of actions taken by you, Bill, and Kit, that ANZ changed their company policy. Way to go!!!‘
This just goes to show that Air New Zealand truly is a hunter-friendly and open-minded airline. Although their decision to charge for firearms was misguided and wrong, they showed their loyalty to Esplanade Travel and the hunting community by reviewing and changing policy immediately.
Please share with your Safari Times colleagues.
Jacky & Bill Keith and Kit Schultze, Esplanade Travel
Your SCI Staff checked with Air New Zealand this morning and is happy to confirm that ANZ policy on checking firearms is “No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply. Multiple firearms can be carried in the same case/bag up to maximum 23kgs.”
During the spring of 2012, Safari Club International members alerted SCI that U.S. Airways had changed its baggage handling regulations regarding firearm transport to and from Spain.
Then SCI met with Airlines 4 America, the airline industry trade association, and sent a letter to U.S. Airways requesting an immediate reversal of their position to refuse firearm transport to Spain.
U.S. Airways’ Managing Director for Security described the new customs procedures being required by Spain to import firearms as checked baggage. U.S. Airways developed a new baggage tagging system that satisfies both private citizens’ luggage security and customs requirements of Spain.
In the past 5 years, SCI has worked with United Airlines to allow antlers in checked baggage after their attempt to disallow it and also worked with the NRA to reverse an American Airlines policy prohibiting flying internationally with firearms.