U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday, June 16 handed SCI and America’s hunters a victory when the court upheld U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) new case-by-case permitting policy for the importation of endangered and threatened wildlife.
The decision represents the culmination of six years of litigation efforts fought alongside National Rifle Association to close the door on abrupt, arbitrary country-wide importation bans that were used under the Obama Administration and significantly threatened conservation efforts in the African range countries affected.
While several anti-hunting groups fought to protect country-wide findings that were used to implement import bans, SCI’s litigation team argued that the FWS is not required to use country-wide findings. In turn, the case-by-case process allows the FWS to be nimbler in its permitting approach and to recognize the conservation benefits of hunting in specific areas and the efforts of individual safari operators.
SCI’s Litigation Counsel Jeremy Clare commented on the decision, saying “We hope the service can now proceed with making science-based determinations for import permits, uninterrupted by unreasonable and unsubstantiated legal challenges.”
Information has long been available showing that legal, regulated hunting in Africa generates habitat conservation benefits as well as direct funding for anti-poaching and rural development programs that will save animal species in the long run.
“The real victory from this ruling belongs to the hunters who will now encounter a more factually driven importation process as part of their crucial role in African conservation,” commented SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin about the court’s decision. “SCI deeply appreciates the D.C. Circuit Court’s wise decision. As always, SCI’s litigation team is second to none in its unrelenting work on behalf of all hunters.”