Washington, DC – (April 16, 2020) – In the midst of unprecedented circumstances, governors from around the country have been forced to make difficult decisions in order to keep their constituencies safe. In many states, people are currently prohibited from leaving their homes unless it is for essential reasons such as certain jobs, going to the store or pharmacy, or going outside in a responsible manner for fresh air, outdoor recreation, or exercise.
As travel bans and other restrictions became tighter and tighter over the course of the last few weeks, hunting and fishing seasons were in jeopardy across the country. Safari Club International (SCI) sprang into action and quickly put together a plan to engage with governors across the country to ensure that hunting and fishing opportunities remain open to the fullest extent possible.
“The health benefits of access to the outdoors are undeniable, especially during trying times like these” said Ben Cassidy, SCI Director of Government Affairs. “SCI members have made this point clear to their Governors, and we’re very grateful to the many leaders around the country who recognize these benefits and have allowed hunting and fishing seasons to continue with proper precautions in place.”
On March 31, SCI President Steve Skold sent a formal letter to all 50 governors urging them to support hunting and fishing seasons while taking the necessary precautions to keep their residents safe and healthy while also highlighting the economic impact that sportsmen and women have in each state. His letters emphasized the mentally restorative benefits of spending time in nature during this stressful time as well. SCI also joined a long list of other hunting and conservation groups in submitting a letter to all 50 governors through America’s Wildlife Conservation Partners.
Following President Skold’s letter, SCI swiftly engaged sportsmen in all 50 states through the Hunter Action Advocacy Center (HAAC). Through the HAAC, SCI members submitted comments to Governors’ offices across the country, urging them to:
- Work with state fish and wildlife agencies or department of natural resources, as well as the hunting community, to ensure that hunting seasons are uninterrupted and administered in a safe and responsible manner.
- Allow public access sites for hunting opportunities to remain open to the best extent possible.
- Classify hunting and firearms-dependent businesses as “essential businesses,” allowing them to remain open under safe operating procedures and social distancing guidelines. These businesses are necessary for hunting seasons to continue, and they also contribute financially to wildlife conservation efforts by selling hunting licenses, tags and sporting equipment with excise taxes.
While necessary precautions are understandable and fully supported by SCI, outright cancellation of hunting and fishing seasons as occurred in the state of Washington and throughout Canada deny people access to activities that can easily be enjoyed in an isolated and socially responsible manner.
The sale of non-resident hunting licenses has been restricted to comply with travel bans, but in the majority of states across the country resident hunting and fishing seasons are continuing, albeit with closures of certain public hunting areas or other restrictions. For reliable information on changes to hunting and fishing regulations in your state, please monitor SCI’s Hunter Information Service Public Advisories or refer to the SCI Social Distancing Guide to Going Outside.
Safari Club International – First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI’s approximately 200 Chapters represent all 50 of the United States as well as 106 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit the home page www.SafariClub.org or call (520) 620-1220 for more information.
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