Safari Club International Responds to Animal Rights Allegations

Safari Club International is investigating allegations from animal rights activists that "canned" hunts were offered during the organization's annual convention in Nevada.

Safari Club International Responds to Animal Rights Allegations

Safari Club International auctions trips, hunts and items from around the world at its annual convention to raise money for conservation and education. The organization and supporters of it come under fire from animal rights activists and anit-hunters. (Photo: Howard Communications/Graham Sales)

Safari Club International is investigating allegations from animal rights activists that "canned" hunts were offered during the organization's annual convention in Nevada.

SCI officials say the "heavily edited convention video footage" alleging vendors at the February 2020 event in Reno has sparked an ethics investigation by the organization. SCI officials say exhibitors will be "afforded due process" and that all products offered at the convention were and are legal under federal and state law.

The organization is challenging the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International to provide unedited video. HSUS members gained entry into the convention and videoed what they say are"canned" hunts and other products made from threatened animals being offered to attendees in violation of SCI's policies, according to the Associated Press. It also was reported that a vendor or vendors were "hawking African vacations to shoot captive-bred lions raised in pens."

SCI faced similar allegations after its 2019 convention in Reno, according to a statement on its website. The convention is a magnet for anti-hunting groups and animal rights activists from around the world, attracting them along with officials from organizations in Europe and Africa who protest the SCI's efforts.

The Associated Press reported that Tyler Turnipseed, the state’s chief game warden, confirmed an investigation is underway by Nevada Department of Wildlife officials.

SCI's annual convention and "Ultimate Hunter Marketplace" attracts thousands to celebrate hunting and raise money for conservation efforts and education through the auction of hunting trips worldwide. SCI CEO Laird Hamberlin said about $13 million was raised at the 2020 event, including some $340,000 thanks to a boost from a visit from Donald Trump Jr., and another $140,000 to help fight a wolf reintroduction initiative underway in Colorado.

“Under my leadership, this organization will take all necessary action to ensure that all of our partners adhere to the policies that are instrumental in making us First for Hunters," Hamberlin said. "Any vendor who violates those principles puts at risk all the work that SCI does not only for hunters but also for wildlife, such as raising $13 million from this year’s convention alone."

In a statement, SCI says its policies are carefully calibrated to ensure that exhibitor offerings comply with all applicable laws and regulations and adhere to SCI’s code of hunter ethics. It added that vendors who attend the convention "are a crucial component to the organization’s overall role as the leading advocate for hunters and they, too, have the right to a fair and transparent process with the opportunity to defend their business against allegations that may be entirely baseless."

SCI said it works closely with law enforcement agencies during the show to guarantee that all products offered for sale on the show floor are fully compliant with state and federal laws. It added that the material composition of specific items "is difficult to differentiate from unreliable secondhand accounts and secretly recorded videos," but notes that many products featured on the Convention floor are for display purposes only and not available for purchase.

"While our accusers are exploiting these allegations purely to fundraise for their own coffers, the success of our convention provides critical conservation funding that will be deployed all over the world," Hamberlin said. "For that reason, I hope our accusers have an equal commitment to a rigorous examination of all the facts, and will provide us the raw footage to assist us in this process.

"No matter where this investigation may take us, I can guarantee that SCI will identify and follow the right course of action to guarantee the integrity of our show, and adherence to our high standards for ethical hunting.”


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