Tag Archives: conservation

Safari Club International Testifies Before House Committee

Al Maki testifying before House Committee.
Testifying before Congress are (l. to r.) Director Dan Ashe (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Dr. Al Maki (Safari Club International), Dr. Stuart Pimm (Duke University), Nick Wiley (Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation) Chairman of Conservation and SCI Vice President, Dr. Al Maki, testified before the Space, Science, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. The hearing covered “The Science of How Hunting Assists Species Conservation and Management,” and sought to highlight the role sportsmen and women play in wildlife conservation, both domestically and internationally. Dr. Maki highlighted how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) works against hunters and their conservation efforts, and spoke on the issue from the standpoint of a professional biologist, avid hunter, and conservationist.

“Government regulations, whether they are a part of the Endangered Species Act or supported by anti-hunting bureaucrats, should not impede conservation funding,” said Dr. Maki. “Hunters have provided too many resources in the form of excise taxes, license sales, and volunteering with organizations like SCI just to be casually overlooked by policy makers.”

Hunters and anglers have voluntarily contributed more than $10 billion dollars to conservation efforts through excise taxes alone since the 1937 inception of the Pittman-Robertson Act. They have been, and remain, the largest advocates of wildlife conservation, however, their efforts have been largely impeded due to the framework of the ESA. The Fish and Wildlife Service and environmental groups have used the ESA to prevent the use of hunting as a conservation measure. Dr. Maki presented several examples of the ESA’s inefficiency, including how the Act harms species enhancement within the United States and beyond.

“We greatly appreciate Congressman Broun and the entire subcommittee’s dedication to address government actions that continually undermine hunter engagement in the conservation of our nation’s wildlife,” concluded Maki.

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SCI Donation Helps DNR Add K-9 Unit

SCI Donates money for Minnesota DNR K9 unit.
The Lake Superior Chapter of Safari Club International recently donated $9,500 to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allowing the department to add a third K-9 unit to its ranks.

The Lake Superior Chapter of Safari Club International recently donated $9,500 to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allowing the department to add a third K-9 unit to its ranks.

Dale Bruder, Lake Superior Chapter SCI president, said of the donation, “We believe organizations like ours have to work hand-in-hand with conservation officers because we’re against everything they are against — poachers and violators of any kind. Our board thought it was an excellent idea for the organizations to work together.”

K-9 “Axel” and his partner, Conservation Officer (CO) Pat McGowan of Hastings, have already completed nearly 12 weeks of human tracking, obedience and evidence search field training conducted by CO Travis Muyres, a certified K-9 trainer and experienced DNR K-9 team handler.

According to Lt. Todd Kanieski, K-9 unit coordinator, the dog comes in “green,” which allows DNR to train the K-9 how the department wants. Kanieski added that the internal “working drive” of both dog and handler are paramount to the success of the K-9 team. “Being a K-9 handler carries a lot of extra responsibility,” he said. “The handler must have a proven history of making solid decisions in the field. The dog must be social around people.”

Conservation officers typically work alone in a 650 square mile patrol area and the DNR working dog model is a lot like the civilian law enforcement patrol dog. It takes a dog of steady, stable character but capable of controlled aggression under certain circumstances, such as on command, when attacked, or when the handler is attacked. The added dimension of a DNR K-9, however, is the ability to sniff out game and fish violations, which is a force multiplier noted Kanieski.

“Searching for trace blood evidence or a shell casing in a large field or wooded area could take multiple officers several hours, but with the right K-9 team, that task can be done in minutes and the area would be more thoroughly searched,” Kanieski said,“We have had great success at finding fish/game evidence and shell casings in the field. That evidence helps us in protecting our natural resources. A K-9 makes sure of that.”

The K-9s are a small part of the DNR Enforcement Division and relies primarily on private donations from organizations such as SCI that have a heavy interest in conservation education and humanitarian projects. The ability to protect natural resources was a big reason why SCI made such a generous donation to the DNR K-9 program. “We see the benefits of establishing good rapport with game agencies, so this fell right in line with what our chapters need to do,” said Derron Wahlen, SCI field coordinator. Funds to assist with the acquisition of a K-9 are raised through SCI chapter fundraisers. “Without the support of the Lake Superior Chapter of the Safari Club…we would not be adding a third K-9 unit,” said Kanieski.

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Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument Opposed

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently voted to oppose efforts to create a 1.7 million acre Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument in northern Arizona proposed by the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Wilderness Society. The commission opposed the measure for several reasons. For one thing, the land is already mostly public land that is currently managed and conserved under multiple-use concepts. Instead of continuing to conserve the land, the measure was an attempt to “preserve” the land, and that would impact the commission’s ability to manage it using sound wildlife management practices.

In many instances, “preserve” means the land is locked away and humans may not be able to access those lands for recreation. It can also mean fish and game departments are prohibited from augmenting wildlife populations, manipulating habitat, or developing wildlife watering areas–all of which have far reaching implications. For example, the monument proposal entailed voluntary retirement of grazing leasing on those lands. A department analysis pointed out that “loss of livestock management can cause significant loss of water availability for wildlife.”

Another management practice lost under “preservation” is the ability to mechanically thin high-risk forests with unnatural densities or to do prescribed burns. Both of those practices are necessary to protect forest habitats from future exposure to the possibility of catastrophic wild fires. Other concerns included the monument designation prompting external pressure to ban traditional ammunition thus jeopardizing success of the Game and Fish Department’s ongoing voluntary non-lead efforts to restore California condor populations, and further restrictions on motorized game retrieval.

Ultimately, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission adopted a resolution concerning the continuing and cumulative effects that special land use designations have on multiple-use lands, including effects on access, conservation efforts and wildlife-related recreation. The resolution does not prevent future discussions and dialogues on the issue, but sets the appropriate stage for those discussions.