Where is it? Right here in Tucson. What is it? Read today's column by Tim Steller at the Daily Star/tucson.com. Snippets and some more questions follow.
You can imagine the late-night crisis-communications sessions out on West Gates Pass Road this last week.
The headquarters of Safari Club International is there, at its International Wildlife Museum, and the group has been thrust into a harsh spotlight by news that a club member from Minnesota killed a well-known lion, perhaps illegally, in Zimbabwe.
Safari Club International works tirelessly to portray itself as an advocate — the advocate — for normal hunters, the guys and gals who get an elk tag and spend a few days a year prowling Arizona’s mountains. The group’s slogan is "first for hunters."
It portrays its main mission as one of conservation of wildlife — that is, putting hunters’ money to use helping animals thrive.
But the lion’s killing pulled back the curtain for a few days, revealing the underbelly of this longtime Tucson institution: wealthy Americans killing exotic animals in faraway lands as trophies.
One of the group’s fiercest adversaries, Humane Society of the United States president Wayne Pacelle, called Safari Club’s trophy-hunting members, "the 0.1 percent."
"This has nothing to do with an average American hunter who shoots a deer or shoots a game bird and eats what he kills and is balancing a budget when he does so. These are the millionaire hunters who give regular hunters a bad name," he said.
... a review of the club’s activities shows it is deeply involved in trying to make the laws more friendly to wealthy trophy hunters — even when governments think that is ecologically unwise.
And they do go after government entities to protect the "sport" of trophy hunting. Is it a sport? Look up the definition of "sport". Trophy hunting does not fit any definition I know of. Read Steller's column for details on just one instance of the club's political activities.
Steller ends this way.
The club’s insistence on saying it supports conservation makes me wonder: If trophy hunters really want to help the animals, why not take the money they would spend on a hunt and instead spend the money on conservation efforts — skipping the hunt altogether?
But of course, that isn’t the point.
It's very much like the NRA telling us we need more guns to make us safe. SCI tells us they shoot animals for their heads to preserve the species. Both claims are delusional.
But to Steller's conclusion. What IS the point? What kick do these folks get from using a high powered rifle to shoot a sedentary herbivore like a giraffe. Or to put an arrow into a lion that was lured off of park grounds? Why is it still a kick to kill an animal for its head after already having hundreds of heads in a trophy room?
I went public with this question on Facebook, asking for a trophy hunter to explain. I'll let you know in this space what results.