SCI is built on a network of regional chapters that work to further SCI Foundation’s mission. SCI chapters often partner with state or provincial agencies to sponsor on the ground conservation initiatives. Through these efforts, many local wildlife conservation projects are completed. SCI Foundation supports these chapter projects, many that focus on anti-poaching, through our Matching Grant Program.
Poaching in North America
The United States is the second largest importer of illegal wildlife products on the black market. Poaching is a major threat to biodiversity in developing regions of Africa and Asia, but also a serious issue in North America. Black bear parts and bighorn sheep horns, for example, are commonly trafficked through the illegal wildlife trade. Enforcement of domestic wildlife regulations can be a difficult and expensive task (only 11%, just $5 million, of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ annual budget goes to law enforcement).
Hunters are not poachers, poachers are not hunters
Hunters, however, are part of the solution; supplying the bulk of funding for state wildlife agencies (Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries receives over two thirds of its budget from license sales and federal funds from taxes on hunting and fishing equipment). Across the country, the SCI and SCI Foundation image deters poachers and represents responsible natural resource stewardship. Over the past year, SCI Foundation has supported several SCI Chapter projects related to law enforcement and anti-poaching in North America.
1. The North Eastern Ontario SCI Chapter is now working with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (OMNRF) Legal Enforcement Department. Recent government cutbacks forced the OMNRF to downsize personnel and equipment. Meanwhile, poaching in the Canadian province has reached unprecedented levels. The North Eastern Ontario SCI Chapter donated a 14’ flat boat, to help with enforcement. The OMNRF will use the boat to deploy moose and other wildlife decoys and patrol the remote areas of Ontario.
2. The Southwest Ohio SCI Chapter continues to support the Ohio Turn in a Poacher (TIP) Program. The TIP program was started by the Chapter in 1982. Funds are used to incentivize the public to report wildlife violations to law enforcement authorities. A reward is only given if a tip leads to a successful conviction. By involving the public, this program has helped catch many poachers over the years.
3. The Oklahoma Station SCI Chapter is funding a four year program to acquiring night vision googles for local game wardens. The googles are critical to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Division of Law Enforcement’s equipment needs. Most poaching activity includes the practice of spotlighting deer at night. Night vision googles ensure the safety of officers on duty and actually lead to higher conviction rates because poachers are caught in the act.
These Matching Grants are an important way for SCI Foundation to increase our conservation efforts, but only a small part of our overall anti-poaching strategy. SCI Foundation is currently seeking to expand SCI Chapter involvement with anti-poaching projects in 2017.
Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more SCI Foundation news.