The attorneys of Safari Club International's Litigation Department work to promote and preserve hunting and sustainable use conservation in courts throughout the country. SCI is unique among hunting organizations for having an in-house team of lawyers dedicated to hunting and wildlife conservation-based litigation.

SCI has litigated over 50 cases throughout the United States involving numerous domestic and international hunting-related issues. SCI’s lawyers have filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court five times, involving (1) the possible criminalization of hunting videos, (2) the Second Amendment, (3) roads for wildlife and hunting, (4) states' authority to regulate navigable waters within National Preserves, and (5) authority to hunt three antelope species. SCI lawyers also prepare comments on SCI’s behalf in response to public input opportunities regarding federal and state actions, regulations and policies.

Each year at the SCI Convention, SCI attorneys and other guest leaders in the fields of hunting, firearms, wildlife conservation and importation present a highly rated continuing legal education course for lawyers.

Current Litigation

  • Defense of Delisting of the Yellowstone Area Grizzly Bears (various plaintiffs v U.S. FWS)

  • Elephant Importation Bans Challenge (SCI v. Zinke)

  • Western Great Lakes Wolf Delisting Challenge (HSUS v. Zinke)

  • Lead Ammunition in Kaibab National Forest (CBD v. U.S. Forest Service)

  • Grand Teton National Park Elk Hunt (Mayo v. Jarvis; Sierra Club v. Zinke)

  • NPS Regulations in Alaska (Sturgeon v. Masica)

  • Revisions to the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Rule (SCI v. Zinke)

  • New Mexico’s Mexican Wolf (New Mexico v. Zinke)

  • McKittrick Policy (WildEarth Guardians v. DOJ)

  • Kaibab National Forest Travel Management Plan (WildEarth Guardians v. Provencio)

  • FOIA Demand for Information About Trophy Importers (HSI v. FWS; CBD v. FWS)

  • Challenge to FWS and NPS Alaska Hunting Regulations (SCI v. Zinke)

(As of December 2017)
*Note:  all the cases in which current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is a named party were brought against Sally Jewell, the Secretary under the Obama Administration. Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Secretary Zinke is automatically substituted for former Secretary Jewell.

Recently Closed Litigation

  • Three Antelope Case

  • Wyoming Wolf Delisting Challenges (Defenders of Wildlife v. Zinke; HSUS v. U.S. FWS)

  • Big Cypress ORV/Wilderness Plan (NPCA et al. v. DOI et al.)

  • California’s Ban on Importation of Mountain Lion Trophies (SCI v. Becerra)

Alerts on Current Litigation

SCI and NRA Continue Litigation Battle over Tanzania Elephant Importation

Apr 05, 2016

SCI and NRA continue to fight to overturn the ban on the importation of sport-hunted elephants from Tanzania. On Friday, April 1, 2016, SCI and NRA filed our final brief in the D.C. Court of Appeals to persuade the court to allow us to pursue our Tanzania-based claims.

ElephantStarting in April 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned elephant imports from both Tanzania and Zimbabwe.  SCI and NRA challenged the bans in federal court in D.C.  Wishing to avoid a battle on the merits of our claims, the Service’s attorneys sought to dismiss our claims on jurisdictional and procedural grounds.  While we defeated efforts to dismiss our Zimbabwe claims, the Service did convince the court to dismiss the Tanzania claims.

The battle then moved to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  In the April 1 brief, we argued that the importation ban for Tanzania was final agency action that harmed both hunters who could no longer import elephants and outfitters and guides who suffered from the loss of revenue caused by U.S. hunters cancelling hunts due to the importation ban.  The Service’s attorneys, on the other hand, insist that SCI and NRA members can only show harm if they apply for a permit, have that permit denied by the Service, and then submit to the agency’s appeal process.  SCI and NRA countered this argument by demonstrating that applying for permits would be futile.  The Service would certainly deny the applications.  In addition, outfitters and guides in Tanzania have no reason to apply for permits because they do not import elephants into the U.S.

In this litigation, SCI and NRA are trying to restore the certainty that hunters enjoyed before 2014 that if they harvested an elephant in Tanzania, they would be able to import it.  Without this certainty, many hunters are not willing to undertake the expense of these hunts.  The reduced revenue from U.S. hunters undermines on-the-ground elephant conservation and anti-poaching efforts being conducted and financed by outfitters and hunting businesses.

The Court of Appeals has not yet scheduled oral argument in the case, but we expect that to occur soon.  Meanwhile, the challenges to the Zimbabwe importation ban continue in the district court.  SCI and NRA will be filing our final brief in that case at the end of April. 

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