A Jewel from Basie Maartens: Basie Maartens needs no introduction as a professional hunter, founding member of the International Professional Hunters Association and its past president, and a pioneer of the modern safari industry. He has recently published his autobiography entitled The Last Safari which was published by Sycamore Island Books. We’ve lifted an important thought expressed by Basil that has enlightening value to all of us who hunt:
“The ultimate challenge that faces us in our quest for staying alive in the hunting world is to create a culture of hunting that maintains respect for the animal and acknowledge the spirituality that takes it to a higher level than a mere trophy on the wall or venison for the table.”
Some hunters state that they hunt for the meat or only hunt what they can eat, when we all know there is much more to hunting than that. Hunters want a trophy and want to bring back memorabilia and symbols from the hunt, but we also all know there is more to the hunt than that as well. A good hunt is a higher-level spiritual experience above all else in the world. As Karen Blixen of Out of Africa said, “Nothing in all the world is like being on safari in Africa….” For more on why we hunt and what it means in human terms see Conservation Force’s website at http://www.conservationforce.org and click on the Why We Hunt link.
Conservation Force’s website, by the way, is finally back up after the Katrina disaster. Though much of it is still under construction, a viewer will not know that a great deal more is being built off-site to add to it over the next few months. Materials are being added to it daily.
Update on Polar Bear Suits and Listing Proposal: The Center for Biological Diversity has voluntarily dismissed its original suit in federal district court due to the USF&WS completion of stage two of the listing process in late December as agreed. The Center has now filed a new suit. The new suit is under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and is a harbinger of what is to come. It is directed at enjoining all oil drilling operations in Alaska that may impact polar bear and walrus in the entire Beaufort Sea.
The suit is Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Environment v. Dirk Kempthorne and United States Fish and Wildlife Service. It was filed on February 13, 2007 in the same court as the last, the Federal District Court of Northern California. It is a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief against the issuance of incidental take permits issued by the USF&WS to oil companies. In a Catch 22, it cites as established fact all of the USF&WS’s own findings in the proposed rule to list polar bear. In summary, it claims that both the polar bear and the Pacific walrus are suffering due to changes to their habitat due to global warming, therefore “incidental take permits required by the MMPA should not be issued.” Long ago, Congress amended the MMPA to authorize the issuance of incidental take permits to industry with various conditions. One such condition is that the Service must explain its rationale in detail if it issues an incidental take permit when it is contrary to the recommendations of the Marine Mammal Commission. The petition alleges that the Service is not following the MMC’s recommendations to the letter.
The incidental takings permits don’t authorize direct takings such as hunting permits do, but permit incidental impact and deaths accidentally caused by exploration, production and transportation activities. It is not nearly as stringent as intentional harvest and importation of trophies of “threatened” listed marine mammals. One can imagine where this is going. It threatens all oil production in the Beaufort Sea, including Prudhoe Bay and the North Slope’s 26 producing fields, the Northstar facility and even cites the fact that though there is no drilling on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the permits being challenged border the refuge. The suit can be found at http://www.earthjustice .org/library/legal_docs/polar-bear-take-complaint.pdf.
Mozambique Elephant Trophy Import Appeals: Conservation Force has filed the final appeal of the denials of the elephant trophy import permits from Mozambique. It is an appeal of all the permits that have been denied since the country reopened safari hunting of elephant in 2000 in furtherance of its National Strategy for the Management of Elephants in Mozambique.
The International Program office of the USF&WS (made up of the Division of Management Authority and the Division of Scientific Authority) made little or no attempt to defend all of its reasons for denying the import permit applications in their response to Conservation Force’s Request for Reconsideration of the original denials. The issues appear to have been narrowed by the reconsideration process. The Division of Management Authority is now stating that it can’t make a non-detriment finding under CITES and the Division of Scientific Authority is stating it can’t make the “enhancement” finding under the Endangered Species Act because, they both state, Mozambique’s National Strategy for the Management of Elephants in Mozambique is not a “national management plan”. The divisions state that the existing national strategy is but a step in the process, not a more detailed plan. It has taken the USF&WS more than six years to make this reason known to the applicants, much less to the authorities in Mozambique. Such a national plan bears little or no relationship to the local communal-based tourist elephant hunting management programs that are more advanced and intensive than such a national plan. The elephant safari hunting is years ahead of any such broad national plan. The denials are the epitome of bureaucracy and facially illegal because the reason is too unrelated to the hunting projects in issue and has no basis in law or regulation. No such arbitrary requirement has been published, much less been adopted after being published for public comment and noticed in the Federal Register as required by the Administrative Procedures Act and the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, the arbitrary requirement that Mozambique have a more detailed national plan for its elephants (such plans normally focus on fully protected park lands/parks) will apply to the Niassa Reserve area permits. Those permits are not yet denied and are still pending because that area has only recently been opened. On the other hand, if this new requirement for a specific kind of national plan withstands our administrative and expected judicial appeals, our efforts are at least ferreting out what more needs to be done to establish the imports. Now we can focus on that target too.
The appeal and list of 70 exhibits can be viewed on Conservation Force’s website at http://www.conservation force.org. – John J. Jackson, III.