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 ‚ÄúHunting Trophy.‚Äù
Director Ashe was invited to the SCI Foundation‚Äôs 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.