Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Wayne Pacelle’s guest column about our Safari Club International convention (“Self-indulgence of animal trophy hunting must end,” Las Vegas Sun, Feb. 4) misrepresents the event and the attendees, and also conveniently fails to mention his true agenda: to ban all hunting everywhere.
Contrary to Pacelle’s citation of a single poll by “HBO Real Sports,” decades of survey research has consistently found that 75 percent of the American public supports hunting. This research has been conducted by the pre-eminent firm in the field, whose clients include state and federal game-management agencies, and the findings are consistent over decades. That’s why Pacelle chooses to change the subject.
The 20,000 attendees of the SCI convention are taking the time to come to Las Vegas to enjoy a comprehensive event including auctions, lunches, seminars and entertainment. They will find more than a million square feet featuring 1,200 exhibitors from 33 countries, representing six continents. The offerings include art, jewelry, taxidermy, clothing and fishing expeditions. But even beyond the commercial offerings, attendees will find a spirit of camaraderie with thousands of others who share their passion for outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation.
Pacelle ignores the fact that by hunting and fishing, attendees are paying the vast majority of the cost of funding wildlife management and conservation all over the world. Hunters and anglers contribute hundreds of millions of dollars every year to domestic and global conservation through payments for excise taxes, licenses, permits and tags.
Beyond these direct contributions, their attendance at our convention generates indirect contributions. Since 2000, the Safari Club International Foundation has spent $60 million on conservation, wildlife education and humanitarian services. SCIF spends about $4 million annually to promote science-based conservation through wildlife research, capacity-building in governments, youth and education, and humanitarian programs. By supporting community-based conservation, hunting benefits hundreds of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of animals and millions of acres of land. Hunters and anglers also support rural economies all over the world with their tourism dollars — just as they are funneling millions of dollars into the Las Vegas economy by attending the convention.
By contrast, Pacelle and his handful of paid, professional anti-hunting zealots contribute nothing but their pious outrage. Because they conceal their true agenda, SCI would like to illustrate their extremism as a public service. Consider the following quotes from Pacelle:
“If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.” (Source: 1991 quote to the Associated Press)
“We want to stigmatize hunting; we see it as the next logical target, and we believe it is vulnerable,” and, “Having hunters oversee wildlife is like having Dracula guard the blood bank.” (Source: Field and Stream, June 1991)
These quotes barely scratch the surface of Pacelle’s extremist ideology and the true agenda of his group. The Humane Society of the United States and its fellow travelers in the anti-hunting extremist movement also have advocated for bans on fishing, ranching and even pet ownership. The ironic reality is that the work done by SCI, its members and the hunter-conservation community does much more for the conservation of species and habitat than many of the misguided policies Pacelle and his fellow anti-hunting zealots support.
The American public has spoken, and it forcefully rejected Pacelle’s extremist agenda. By participating in our great outdoor heritage of hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation, the public is voting with its feet. And by attending the SCI convention, our attendees are voting with their wallets, to the benefit of wildlife, conservation and local economies all over the world.
Larry Higgins is president of Safari Club International.