Tag Archives: CITES

SCI, U.S. FWS Confer About Hunting Matters

As part of the organization’s hunter advocacy mission, Safari Club International officials met recently with the head of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to discuss critical hunting and wildlife policies that affect hunters around the world.

SCI works tirelessly to provide hunters the best opportunities to improve policies that affect hunting, both domestically and internationally. To be an effective hunter advocate requires specific lobbying efforts with high-level government officials.

When SCI President John Whipple, President-Elect Craig Kauffman, Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chairman Paul Babaz, and GAC Vice-Chair Al Maki visited the Washington, D.C. office in July, they sat down with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe to discuss a variety of important issues and policies that affect hunters and hunting.

Al Maki, who also chairs the SCI Foundation Conservation Committee, asked the FWS to work collaboratively with SCI and SCI Foundation biologists to develop coordinated positions as the CITES Conference of the Parties 16 approaches next year in Bangkok, Thailand. SCI and FWS policies may differ, but developing relationships where there is common ground can help lead to better policies, such as an improved definition of a “Hunting Trophy.”

Director Ashe was invited to the SCI Foundation’s African Wildlife Consultative Forum, which is the largest annual meeting of African government delegations, professional hunter associations, and NGOs.

President Whipple and Director Ashe focused on the need for youth engagement with the outdoors, and building SCI chapter relations with regional National Wildlife Refuge managers nationwide (there are more than 500 Refuges in the U.S.). Each spoke passionately about reducing impediments to hunting and increasing hunting opportunities on the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The discussion also addressed problems with the importation of trophies. Babaz and Kauffman each shared views of how international hunters provide a vital link to conservation funding in economically struggling countries and how international hunters help to place a greater value on wildlife, thus ultimately reducing poaching. Director Ashe embraced this opportunity to discuss his vision to improve working relations with international hunters through education and concentrated outreach directly to SCI, which advocates directly to its members.

Without SCI working actively to protect hunting and advocate for changes in policy, there is little hope for the next generation. President John Whipple is committed to working directly at the highest level of government to ensure SCI remains first for hunters to protect our heritage.

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U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Releases New Guidance On The Importation Of Trophies

Over the past months, SCI staff has been working diligently with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), importers and other members of the regulated community to find a solution to a recent spike in seizures of sport-hunted trophies.

On Friday Feb. 24, the FWS released a memo that clarifies the instructions on tagging and marking leopard, Nile crocodile and African elephant trophies. “We commend the FWS for taking a first step to help reverse the incidences of seizures due to paperwork and procedural problems with importation,” SCI reported. “SCI will continue to work with the FWS to solve importation problems that interfere with trophy importation by many SCI members.”

SCI strongly encourages members who are planning on hunting any of these three species to read through the entire memo and to provide a copy to their Professional Hunter, Outfitter and/or Taxidermist or whoever else might be involved in the preparation and exportation of these trophies.

One particular source of trophy importation problems relates to the tags and/or tusk markings required for the importation of CITES Appendix I trophies. In some circumstances the trophy is taken in one year and imported in a different year. In those circumstances, the tags and/or tusk markings must include different information about the quota from which the animal was taken than must appear on the CITES export permit document.

The memo provides specific information to cover the requirements for these circumstances.

One particularly significant statement in the memo appears in its last line where the FWS explains that, “Sporthunted trophies imported into the United States that do not comply with the marking, tagging or CITES document requirements are subject to refusal of entry or seizure.”

With that sentence, the FWS acknowledges that refusal of entry is a potential strategy that hunter/importers can request to avoid trophy seizures. If and when a hunter/importer is faced with procedural or paperwork deficiencies concerning the importation of the trophy, the hunter/importer may ask for the FWS to refuse entry of the trophy and to return the trophy to the country of export.

A refusal of entry is not a means of fixing existing paperwork flaws. Instead it requires the hunter/importer to restart the exportation process with new exportation and importation documents. While it may be expensive to ship a trophy back to Africa and to seek new documentation, in many cases that cost and effort will be far more reasonable than losing a trophy to seizure.

It is important to understand that the FWS is unlikely to elect to refuse entry unless the hunter/importer specifically asks for that option. For that reason, SCI strongly recommends that hunter/importers who are facing a possible seizure ask that their trophy be refused entry rather than seized. Hunters/Importers should retain the FWS memo and show it to the FWS border official if any question arises. Members who have questions, please contact Bill McGrath wmcgrath@safariclub. org, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lawenforcement@fws.gov.