On March 7, 2022, Safari Club International, with its partners at the National Rifle Association of America, Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, moved to defend the opening of new hunting and fishing opportunities on almost 100 National Wildlife Refuges around the country.
The Center seeks to overturn a 2020 rule published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which opened new opportunities on 2.3 million acres of refuges and national fish hatcheries. At the time, this was the largest expansion of hunting and fishing access on public lands that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had ever proposed. SCI and its partners recognize the weakness in the Center’s lawsuit and the importance of maintaining hunting and fishing access on these public lands.
Hunting and fishing have been essential to the development, expansion, and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System. For this reason, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, the law governing these public lands, requires that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prioritize the expansion of hunting and fishing on refuges. That priority also makes economic sense. In 2021, the sale of hunting and fishing equipment and firearms generated a record $1.5 billion in funding for wildlife and habitat conservation. Those monies are distributed to State fish and wildlife agencies to ensure the continued protection of refuge lands and conservation of the wildlife which enjoy this habitat.
SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin stated, “Hunters were instrumental in creating the National Wildlife Refuge System. Congress recognized this contribution in prioritizing hunting on refuge lands. The plaintiff’s lawsuit is baseless—and SCI argued this in a motion to dismiss filed with our intervention. But even worse, the suit ignores history, the very clear direction of Congress, and the critical funding that hunting provides for the benefit of wildlife and habitat.”
SCI has challenged the Biden Administration to preserve access to public lands as part of our “No-Net-Loss” campaign. Defending this lawsuit against the Center’s attack is a first step to maintaining access to public lands, and ensuring that hunters and anglers continue to play their conservation role.
For 50 years, Safari Club International (SCI) has been the leading defender of the freedom to hunt and supporter of wildlife conservation worldwide.
SCI is unique in the scope of our ability to defend and advance our freedom to hunt. SCI is the only hunting rights organization with a Washington, D.C.- based international advocacy team and an all-species focus. SCI mobilizes our 152 chapters and affiliate network representing 7.2 million hunters around the world. The conservation projects of SCI’s sister organization, the SCI Foundation, support research, management and rural communities in North America, Africa and Central Asia. In addition, SCI’s Annual Hunters’ Convention is the world’s largest marketplace that celebrates our freedom to hunt.
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