Tag Archives: SCIF

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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SCIF Supports Rhino Anti-Poaching Efforts

Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) has awarded multiple grants to land conservancies in Southern Africa that serve as important reserves for black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and other wildlife. Since 2008, an increase in rhino poaching has been reported in southern Africa. In this same time frame, SCIF has provided more than US $80,000 to fund rangers, aircraft, trail cameras, telemetry equipment and other tools to combat the increase in poaching.

Collaborative efforts among conservation organizations and the hunting industry are using hunter-generated revenue to successfully prevent poaching.

One of SCIF’s partners, the Chiredzi River Black Rhino Charitable Trust (Chiredzi River Conservancy) uses funds provided by SCIF to promote its anti-poaching activities through the deployment of Game Scouts (anti-poaching rangers) who patrol the conservancy. In addition to the SCIF grant, the Chiredzi River Conservancy sought advice from Matt Eckert, SCIF Manager of Science-Based Conservation Programs & Research, for developing a conservation model for the organization.

Photo courtesy of the Chiredzi River Black Rhino Charitable Trust.

The Chiredzi River Conservancy has taken great strides toward reducing poaching activity and plans to employ additional anti-poaching personnel to maintain patrols. In Tanzania, the Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF) conducts surveillance flights with microlight aircraft because of vital support from SCIF. FCF is working closely with the Tanzanian government on poacher surveillance. The microlight covers more than 9 million acres of protected areas.

Although the work conducted by FCF focuses on elephants and the general bushmeat trade, the techniques being perfected will undoubtedly have wider applications for anti-poaching work throughout Africa. Airborne reconnaissance that coordinates movements of ground crews improves the speed of ranger response and ultimately leads to more arrests.

In 2011, SCIF announced a partnership with The WILD Foundation where rhino poaching will be fought in South Africa through the Rhino Informant Incentive Fund (RIIF). The RIIF provides financial incentives to economically underdeveloped rural communities where rhino poachers reside. Furthermore, local individuals act as informants to assist local law enforcement in apprehending poachers. RIIF has led to the confiscation of horns, weapons and equipment. SCIF’s sister organization Safari Club International (SCI) has actively lobbied on behalf of the Rhino & Tiger Conservation Fund (RTCF) that has been administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for well over 10 years. Multiple other rhino conservation organizations have benefitted by receiving funds from the Rhino & Tiger Conservation Fund.

SCI was a founding member of the Multi-National Species Conservation Fund Coalition (MNSFC), currently sits on the coalition steering committee, and financially supports the coalition coordinator. Both the RTCF and MNSFC provide assistance to global wildlife conservation efforts. The MNSFC fought very hard in recent budget debates in the United States Congress to ensure that the Multi-National Conservation Funds remained a part of the Fish & Wildlife Service budget.

Without the involvement of SCI and others of the coalition, these precious funds may not have been realized. Rhinos reproduce slowly so it is a natural reaction by managers to immediately become preservationists when faced with seemingly insurmountable poaching activity. Anti-poaching teams require significant financial investment, and SCIF has identified ways to make these programs sustainable.

Legal hunting of rhinoceros exists in accordance to recommendations of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Hosting carefully implemented hunts for non-reproducing individuals (i.e., over-mature males) can generate considerable amount of revenue for conservation programs. In fact, over-mature males have the potential to pose a threat to black rhinos still able to contribute to the future of the species. Sustainable-use of rhinos can promote enhancement of the species just like so many other game animals. Ensuring that animals harvested lawfully do not enter the illegal trade in wildlife parts and tarnish the reputation of legitimate conservationists is a major consideration of SCIF. Poachers and smugglers should not benefit from the dedicated work of true rhino conservationists by skimming the gains made after decades of due diligence. Additional opportunities to support rhino conservation are currently being reviewed by the SCIF. By Marcus Gray, Coordinator of Science-Based Conservation Programs and Research

Alaskan Brown Bears: Sitkalidak Island

By Corey Jager

Sitkalidak Island is the third largest island in the Kodiak Archipelago of Alaska. These Alaskan islands are celebrated for their abundance of unscathed wild landscapes and provide fantastic hunting and fishing opportunities. Wild salmon streams are among the plentiful natural resources on the island, drawing particular interest from Kodiak brown bears. Although this brown bear subspecies has been genetically isolated on the Kodiak Islands for around 12,000 years, they persist as a robust population and are prized as trophies by hunters. The Kodiak brown bear population throughout the islands has been on the rise due to the security provided by the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, and sustainable harvest managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Although population data have been collected extensively for bears throughout most of the islands, minimal data are available for Sitkalidak Island and the eastern side of Kodiak Island. Research is underway to correct this deficiency through a partnership between the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust, Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. SCI Foundation has joined this partnership by granting $50,000 to support this study, which is aimed at providing a better understanding of bear population size, density, movement and resource use patterns. This research will enhance the current management strategies for Kodiak brown bears and potentially increase the hunting opportunities throughout the Kodiak Archipelago.

Sophisticated research techniques will allow scientists to safely immobilize twelve adult female bears and place GPS tracking collars on them. Blood and tooth samples will be collected to understand the individual health and age of each captured bear. The GPS collars can be used for long-term monitoring of the individual bears and allow researchers to understand where bears move throughout the islands and how they utilize food and habitat available to them. Bears share many food resources with humans, and humans harvesting resources in bear habitat may lead to bear-human conflicts. This study will provide valuable data for mitigating unwanted, and potentially dangerous, bear encounters with local citizens and travelers. Minimizing incidental confrontations with the guidance of updated population data will ultimately benefit both humans and bears on the islands.

SCI Foundation is proud to be involved with another project that embodies the commitment to science-based management of bears. The $50,000 provided by SCI Foundation is necessary for managers to understand the population of bears they are working with. Proper stewardship of brown bears requires information in a timely fashion. Working with partners, funds available for conservation activities go farther than if any of the cooperating entities worked alone. This allows a larger conservation footprint for SCI Foundation and fosters better work to be conducted for many species where federal and state money for research and management have waned.

SCIF Funds Conservation Projects

Safari Club International Foundation has contributed $537,590 in the past six months to fund worldwide wildlife conservation projects.

“The research programs selected by SCIF’s professional biologists inform wildlife managers and policy makers on critical wildlife management needs worldwide,” said SCIF President Joe Hosmer. “SCIF strives to ensure management decisions are based on the best available science.”

SCIF donated $350,000 to fund multiple predator/prey projects in the U.S. and Canada. Conservation projects include Predator/Prey studies observing rates of whitetail deer fawn survival in Michigan and Wisconsin, elk survival in Montana, and caribou survival in Newfoundland. The results of these projects will help properly manage both predators and prey in systems where both exist. Donations were also made to wildlife population research and enhancement programs including mule deer in the Eastern Mojave Desert, brown bears on Kodiak Island, black bears in Missouri, and moose in Alaska, among others.

The most recent project is a partnership with Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Kenai Moose Project. SCIF donated $20,000. In multiple African nations, SCIF has given more than $123,000 to wildlife conservation and human-wildlife conflict programs.

Most recently, SCIF donated $30,000 for the upcoming African Wildlife Consultative Forum, which will be held in Botswana. SCIF also continues to fund lion research in Zambia to improve the accuracy of aging lions in their natural environment.

Being able to accurately age lions in the field will assist range states develop appropriate lion harvest regulations to ensure sustainability.

“Throughout the year, SCIF contributes over $1 million to wildlife research, management and anti-poaching programs. As an international organization, SCIF continues to increase our financial impact for sustainable-use conservation and we hope more organizations can follow our lead,” said Hosmer.

Contributions to wildlife species made during the past 6 months include:

  • Lion (Southern Africa) $30,000
  • Elephant (Zimbabwe) $25,200
  • Leopard (Zimbabwe, Namibia) $18,000
  • Wildlife Genetics (Africa) $20,000
  • Brown Bear (Alaska) $50,000
  • Black Bear (Missouri) $25,000
  • Elk (Montana. & Ontario)$69,800
  • Whitetail deer (Mich. & Wisc$75,000
  • Mule Deer (Calif. & Colorado) $40,880
  • Moose (Alaska) $33,500
  • Caribou (Newfoundland) $8,550
  • Bighorn Sheep (Mont. & Wyo) $31,500
  • Dall Sheep (Alaska) $5,000
  • Predator ID Manual (Intl) $10,000
  • Conservation Matching Grants $8,000
  • African Wildlife Forum $30,000

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