During the past six months the Hunter Legacy Fund 100 (HLF) contributed over $450,000 to conservation projects around the globe. It started on Saturday night at the 41st Annual SCI Hunters’ Convention in Reno, the HLF made a $250,000 contribution to the “Fighting for Lions” campaign. The “Fighting for Lions” campaign will focus on keeping the African Lion from being listed as “endangered” on the Endangered Species Act, in part by working on conservation research projects.
The HLF has also committed to funding several conservation projects across North America, including one newly initiated on wolves in Washington State. Wolves are a major concern in conservation and litigation. Their populations are increasing and they have re-colonized many areas in the West. This project will investigate the impacts wolves are having on large ungulates and humans, and will help biologist and land managers make informed management decisions as wolf populations continue to expand.
The HLF also granted big money to the Bitterroot Elk Project in Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the University of Montana have partnered with SCI Foundation and the HLF to investigate the influence of predation, habitat and nutrition on elk population dynamics in the southern Bitterroot Valley. Initially focused on wolves, after two seasons of monitoring elk survival, the researchers have learned that mountain lions are responsible for significant elk predation. They will continue to investigate the impact of wolves, mountain lions, and food availability on elk.
And it continues. The HLF is also supporting two wildlife conservation projects in Texas, partnering with the Borderlands Research Institute. One will focus on antler development in mule deer populations and the other on the movement, survival and habitat use of restored desert bighorn sheep in West Texas.
In Asia, the HLF has committed to fund the second phase of a continuing project with Marco Polo argali sheep in Tajikistan. The first phase used surveys to show that there are healthy populations of sheep at very high numbers. This research provided the necessary information to the Tajikistan government that justified sustainable quotas, and likely made the case for the reopening of argali sheep hunting in Tajikistan. The second phase will evaluate the quality of sheep range at a landscape level. Researchers will use large vegetation ground plots, which are simply plant surveys that estimate availability of forage species important to sheep. The study will reveal what habitat areas are suitable for sheep and will be used to estimate how many sheep the range can sustain over time.
The HLF also committed to helping the SCI Foundation publish the anticipated “Predator Kill-Site ID Manual”. Predator experts and SCIF have worked diligently to develop a practical manual to be used in the field by wildlife researchers that improves the accuracy of identifying which species of predator killed a prey species. This publication will gain SCI Foundation and the HLF recognition within the wildlife profession for the important contribution to the scientific community.
SCI Foundation applauds the HLF investments in worldwide conservation efforts. The success of HLF in making a true tangible difference in wildlife conservation is a milestone in SCI Foundation’s history. If you want to make huge impact in conservation by becoming the next member of the Hunter Legacy Fund, contact Bob Benson, Executive Director of SCI Foundation BBenson@safariclub.org.