In 1979, the SCI sought government approval to circumvent the spirit of the law and import an astonishing 1,125 trophies of 40 species on the endangered species list, including gorillas, cheetahs, tigers, orangutans, and snow leopards. The SCI claimed its goal was “scientific research incentive for propagation survival of the species,” when in reality, these animals were merely “food for the guns” to be used in hunts for trophy hunters’ amusement. The USFWS denied the request.
Another example of SCI ethics is Kenneth E. Behring, millionaire and former president of the club. In 1997, Behring donated $100 million to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and paid the government of Kazakhstan to allow him to shoot an endangered Kara Tau argali sheep, of which only 100 individuals were left. As such, the dead animal could not be imported into the United States as a trophy without the help of a museum. Subsequently, Behringer solicited the help of the museum for an import permit, which the USFWS withdrew after an ensuing negative publicity.
A year later, Behringer was accused of illegally killing an elephant in Mozambique, where the sport killing of elephants was banned in 1990. And to add more brutality to this case, Behringer’s killing group apparently used a helicopter to drive elephants to their guns.
In another nefarious action, SCI member Dan Duncan was investigated by a U.S. federal grand jury in 2007 for violating the Lacy Act when he illegally shot a moose and a wild sheep from a helicopter.
How the SCI works to relax trophy animal imports and to weaken the ESA
The club’s lobby exerts a powerful influence on shaping policies that go against wildlife conservation, and only benefit the interests of trophy hunters worldwide. Through its wealthy membership and money received from giving awards for kills of wild animals, SCI contributes large sums to mostly Republican candidates, and supports those who are eager to help further the club’s shameful agenda to further weaken, and to circumvent the intent of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and import once-banned trophies of endangered and threatened wildlife.
- 2012: The SCI is driving the killing of African lions, and is contributing to the species’ rapid decline of more than 50% over the last three decades, leaving fewer than 40,000 individuals in the wild. Yet, without any concern for the survival of African lions, SCI is fighting the petition of several wildlife protection groups to list the lion as endangered.
- 2011: The SCI in conjunction with the National Rifle Association (NRA) intervened in the 9th Circuit Court, to defend the constitutionality of Section 1713 of H.R. 1473, “Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011,” a law that directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves from the endangered species list.
- In 2007, SCI testified at a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service hearing opposing the proposed listing of polar bears as a “threatened” species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
- 1994: Trophy hunting organizations, including the SCI, successfully lobbied for a change in the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act 1972 to allow for the importation of previously banned sport-hunted polar bear trophies into the United States from Canada.
- During the Bush Administration era, the SCI proposed to “save” endangered species by killing or selling them, and then using the revenues as an incentive for poor countries to improve their conservation efforts. The proposal offered several examples of how wildlife can be exploited for profit, and included suggestions, e.g., to import wild-caught Asian elephants for circuses and zoos. This concept continues to echo through conservation cycles touted as ‘wise-use’ of wildlife, and the notion that wild animals should pay for the survival of their species. In other words, some animals pay with their lives so that others may stay alive, only to be killed by trophy hunters at a later point in time.
- 1981: The National Rifle Association and Safari Club International, argued against inclusion of a felony penalty, and other strengthening measures of the Lacey Act, the only strong law that brings poachers and wildlife traffickers to justice when they take illegally gotten wildlife across state boundaries.
While most empathic people cannot even imagine harming these beautiful animals and prefer to watch them alive, SCI continues to pursue its ruthless, profit-motivated agenda to promote killing wildlife at any cost. SCI lobbyists are a fixture in Washington, and alerts are routinely sent to members with information about bills concerning wildlife, environmental protection and conservation. Members are urged constantly to pressure their Congressional representatives for less wildlife protection and more hunting leniency, which is what concerns the SCI and nothing else.