SCI Challenges California Mountain Lion Import Ban

Safari Club International files suit in U.S. District Court to reverse 1990 decision made via voter initiative.

On Aug. 6, 2014, Safari Club International filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California challenging a California law, enacted in 1990 through voter initiative, which bans the importation, transportation and possession of mountain lions hunted outside California.

“Back in 1990, ill-informed California voters decided it was a good idea to take the management of this predator species out of the hands of the wildlife professionals,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “Not only did they ban mountain lion hunting within the state, but they went further and tried to impose on other states their misguided views on mountain lion hunting.”

The result? California hunters have been discouraged from hunting mountain lions ever since, regardless where such hunting might occur. SCI claims the import/possession ban violates the Commerce Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it “infringes on interstate commerce without serving a strong local interest and it discriminates against hunters who wish to import mountain lions as compared to hunters of other wildlife that is not protected.”

SCI members in California and in surrounding states encouraged SCI to challenge the ban. Perhaps at least one recent event, as reported by American Hunter, was on their minds. Back in 2012, the president of the California Fish and Game Commission was forced from his post due to citizen backlash in response to his legal hunt and subsequent killing of a mountain lion in Idaho.

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