The Elephant In The Deer Hunter’s Room

Not many deer hunters are ever going to hunt an elephant, but elephants might be central in protecting or losing our rights to hunt.

Elephants? Deer? What’s the connection?

The anti-hunting movement is the connection. Groups opposed to all hunting are using dramatic species, such as elephants, to advance their efforts to shut down all hunting, one species at a time if necessary, worldwide. And we deer hunters are helping fund them.

It sounds crazy, but in a convoluted way it’s all too real. Here’s how it’s going down:

Elephant poachers are slaughtering these giant pachyderms wherever they can, mostly in countries and national parks that have outlawed all hunting. Countries that permit limited elephant hunting, like Zimbabwe, have thriving elephant populations, sometimes too many.

Because the elephants bring in hunter dollars and provide jobs for local people, they have value. Subsistence farmers tolerate the giant crop eaters because they know they’ll get meat from hunter kills and some of the proceeds from hunting fees. Those fees also pay for anti-poaching patrols. The guides, outfitters and their clients—in the field daily—also patrol against poachers. Fewer than 500 elephants are taken annually by hunters.

Where hunting is outlawed, the outlaws take over. Poor African countries can’t afford to keep—let alone guard and protect—elephants that trample crops and huts and have no value. Farmers look the other way when poachers move in to eliminate what they see as vermin.

Anti-hunters apparently care only about keeping humans from hunting, not supporting practical solutions that maintain sustainable wildlife populations. So they pressed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to outlaw the importation of legally taken elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania, two countries with thriving elephant populations.

So why should we care if a few wealthy hunters can’t bring their elephant tusks and tails back from Africa?

Because our taxes and hunting license dollars fund the USFWS. Do we really want our paid public servants ignoring wildlife management science and using our hunting dollars to advance the anti-hunting movement? If carefully managed, limited elephant hunting in Zimbabwe has proven to protect overall elephant herds, why should we be paying for our government to thwart Zimbabwe’s efforts?

So how can we stop them? SCI is the answer. The NRA defends our 2nd amendment rights. Safari Club International defends our hunting rights. SCI’s litigation team is currently fighting this elephant importation ban. But that’s not all. It’s also working on wolf delisting challenges in the Great Lakes states and New Mexico, elk hunting in Wyoming, a California ban on importation of legally taken mountain lions and much, much more.

Legal battles and complicated conservation work might not be as interesting as the newest rifle or bow, but it’s much, much more important to our future as hunters. If you want to ensure you and your kids retain the right to hunt, support SCI.

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