by Amy Trotter, MUCC Policy Manager
I had the opportunity to attend a Chapter Dinner of the Lansing Area Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI) on Saturday evening. As are most banquets I attend (which is quite a few), this was a family affair with my husband, energetic toddler, mother and father-in law, and family friends and neighbors, along with good food (especially from Chef Dan Nelson with Gourmet Gone Wild), and a gun raffle. What was different about this one was that there were also representatives from many other SCI Chapters, the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association, the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance, and even MSU Wildlife Law professor and former MUCC legal counsel Carol Bamberry with some of her law students.
What brought us all together was a presentation from Anna Seidman, head of SCI’s Litigation Department in Washington, D.C., in town to talk about the current litigation that just put the Western Great Lakes wolf population back on the Endangered Species list. Her delivery was impeccable, and included a very precise yet easy to understand description of the case and the ideas we have for moving forward. As someone who is neck deep in wolf management and policy, it wasn’t anything new to me, but again it was very well done.
What was very enlightening to me was another part of her presentation that described what we, as the hunting, fishing, and trapping community, are up against. She described the SCI Litigation Department as herself and two other counselors. She acknowledged U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as other national groups that SCI partners with, especially on this wolf litigation, who employ or retain legal counsel in order to defend our rights to hunt in court.
But when she described “the other side”, it was truly astounding. According to her last count, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has about 13 lawyers on staff and the Center for Biological Diversity (another anti-hunting, litigation heavy group with an almost innocent sounding name) has about 28 legal beagles, not to mention smaller anti-hunting, animal rights groups with 3-4 paid lawyers each. But they also have among their ranks more than 1,000 pro bono attorneys that they work with to try to circumvent sound wildlife management and sue the pants off of our state and federal agencies at every turn.
How can we win when we are up against that? What we have on our side is common sense and sound scientific management, which in the case of the Great Lakes wolves, must and will ultimately prevail. Our day in court is not yet done, but we are definitely looking at short-term and long-term solutions to this endless animal rights litigation and groups who are using the Endangered Species Act as a fundraiser.
MUCC is calling on Congress to enact the 2011 delisting rule by statute–view our recently passed emergency resolution here. Stay tuned for action alerts to call your U.S. Senators and Congressmen and women to ask for their support.
But this is just one battle in the war against anti-hunting, animal rights groups, and there will be many more to come. I’m just glad to have Anna, SCI, USSA, RMEF, MUCC, UPSA, MTAPC, MHDF, UPBHA, MBHA, MBH, DU, NWTF, MSSFA, Michigan B.A.S.S., and every hunter, angler, and trapper out there on my side.