Contact: Aoibheann Cline, Western States Coordinator
As the California legislative session ended at midnight on August 31, so did the efforts to pass a major anti-hunting bill. SB 1175, better known as the “Iconic African Species Protection Act”, would have banned the possession and importation of thirteen African species to California, including taxidermy, after January 2021.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, conservation partners, and African governments were vocal in opposition of this anti-hunting legislation throughout the legislative process in order to preserve independent African countries’ ability to manage their own wildlife and conservation strategies.
SB 1175 initially passed the Senate (29-8-3) on June 26, 2020 and later passed the Assembly (49-16-14) on August 31, 2020. However, because of the amendments to the bill in the Assembly, it was required to be sent back to the house of origin for a concurrence vote. The Senate failed to bring the bill back up for a concurrence vote before the legislative end-of-the-session deadline. The result was a technical, but critical buzzer-beater win for the conservation community. The victory and collective sportsmen’s community effort signals promising momentum for advocacy efforts in California’s challenging political arena.
Senate California Outdoor Sporting Caucus Co-Chair Senator Brian Jones was a champion for the sportsmen’s community in opposition of the bill, and was joined by bipartisan Caucus Co-Chairs Assembly Member Adam Gray and Assembly Member Maria Waldron in opposition to the bill during the late session vote on the Assembly floor.
A bill that was nearly identical to the Iconic African Species Protection Act provisions of SB 1175 had passed the legislature in 2018, only to be vetoed by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown because its provisions were “unenforceable.”
“Trophy” importation bans aimed at African species are as misleading as they are ineffective. Legislators should consider that although proponents claim these bans are meant to protect African game species, in practice, they deprive African nations of the resources needed to mount effective anti-poaching and conservation efforts that are primarily funded by the harvest of a small number of animals, and inadvertently deprive rural communities of meat and necessary infrastructure development.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?