SCI Foundation’s Matching Grants Program matches SCI Chapter funds from around the world to support crucial conservation projects. The New Year means new projects here at SCI Foundation and renewed relationships with local SCI Chapters. Many of these projects support the sustainable management of game species while others work toward the enhancement of their habitat. SCI Foundation is proud to match the contributions of local hunters and demonstrate that hunting is conservation!
Below are the conservation projects initiated by SCI Chapters and supported by SCI Foundation:
Georgia Chapter SCI: Department of Natural Resources Anti-Poaching Trail Cameras
SCI’s Georgia Chapter received a commendation letter from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division for its contribution of trail cameras used in anti-poaching. Since the pilot program was introduced in 2016, the cameras have assisted law enforcement in documenting over 120 violations and illegal activity. Often, with only a single photo, the cameras give Game Wardens the ability to actively work multiple complaints at the same time while saving fuel and vehicle mileage. The letter concludes, “It is only through the dedicated support of organizations like Safari Club International that this technology has become available to our Game Wardens.”
Southwest Ohio Chapter: Department of Natural Resources Anti-Poaching Night Vision Optics
SCI’s Southwest Ohio Chapter has been helping the Ohio Division of Wildlife upgrade its equipment over the last two years. These night vision optics are the fourth set of optics attained by the Ohio DNR Wildlife Division and have greatly improved the effectiveness of game wardens. The optics are used primarily to catch night poaching, illegal dumping of waste, and other illegal activities. Night optics are also being employed to assist game wardens in conducting regular game counts far more accurately than with the naked eye. The difference between how effective wardens once were compared to how effective they are now with night optics is quite literally the difference between night and day.
Northern Nevada Chapter: Division of Wildlife Project to Reseed Burnt Areas for Sage Habitat
Wildfires have been in the news a lot recently. The need to prioritize ecosystems damaged by wildfire is not a new issue for the SCI Northern Nevada Chapter. This project will focus on habitat restoration for the Greater Sage-Grouse in the Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area. Reseeding severely damaged portions of the massive 120,000-acre management area is a monumental task. In cooperation with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada Division of Forestry, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Northern Nevada Chapter of SCI, SCI Foundation is proud to support local hunters involved with conservation. The same volunteers from the Northern Nevada Chapter of SCI monitored the greater sage-grouse four years ago to prevent them from being listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Most of the projects supported by SCI Foundation’s Matching Grants Program have multiple partners, all dedicated to conservation.
Greater Dacotah Chapter: South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Oak Management Project:
The Hepler Game Production Area, just southwest of Spearfish, South Dakota, is known for healthy oak trees that produce acorns in the fall. Acorns are crucial for wildlife such as deer, turkeys, squirrels, and grouse that all have hunting seasons dependent on sustainable populations. Two years ago, pine trees and unhealthy oak trees were competing with and literally, “overshadowing” smaller acorn-producing trees. These same smaller trees were also susceptible to storm damage, leaving them unable to fully mature. The result was a dense stand of mostly small, dead trees and one or two large healthy trees. SCI’s Greater Dacotah Chapter partnered with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and with the support of SCI Foundation restored these hardwood areas. Nine truckloads of lumber were removed and transformed an unhealthy habitat into a clean and productive area for wildlife.
Mid-Michigan Chapter SCI, Southeast Michigan Bow Hunters and SCI NOVI, Michigan: Michigan Predator-Prey Project:
The Michigan Predator-Prey Project is SCI Foundation’s flagship North American project and the best-documented research project ever conducted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Mid-Michigan and Southeast Michigan Bowhunter Chapters of Safari Club International will both be utilizing SCI Foundation’s support for Phase III of the Predator-Prey Project. This phase takes place in the high-snowfall area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The goal is to continue this now 12-year-old project’s investigation of the role predators, winter weather, and habitat play on white-tailed deer fawn survival. The U.P. is home to some of the harshest winters in the U.S., making fawn survival extremely difficult. This year-round effort has been instrumental in guiding wildlife management in Michigan as well as supporting the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
The NOVI, Michigan Chapter of Safari Club International, just outside of Detroit, continues to support the Michigan Predator-Prey Project in the U.P. This month the Michigan DNR will be trapping and collaring white-tailed deer in the high-snowfall zone. Just this past year, graduate students completed field work in the mid-snowfall zone utilizing GPS collars and hair snares to study black bears, bobcats, coyotes, beavers, and white-tailed deer. Currently, graduate students are analyzing data from the past 3 years and beginning to make comparisons with their findings from the low-snowfall zone study area. The continued use of this monitoring program will help researchers identify that each winter can affect the deer population in different ways. Harsh winters can not only prevent fawn survival, they can leave many in poor condition that hinders fawn survival the following year, even when the following winter is milder.
Flint Regional Chapter and Lansing Area Chapter SCI Upper Peninsula Habitat Work Group:
The Michigan Upper Peninsula Habitat Work Group is dedicated to the investigation of the degradation of white-tailed deer winter habitat. Also referred to Winter Deer Yards, these portions of white-tailed deer habitat are crucial, serving as some of the only cover available. One of the primary discoveries made by the Michigan Predator-Prey Project is the critical need to determine what actions could and should be taken to restore the habitat. White-tailed deer fawn are threatened far more by the extreme cold than by predators during the winter. The key to improving their survival is making corrective, science-based decisions as to how local businesses, land owners, loggers, and other entities utilize the habitat during the summer. SCI Foundation is proud to match the SCI Flint Regional Chapter’s support to this vital part of the Michigan Predator-Prey Project.
The Lansing Area Chapter of Safari Club International is continuing its support for the Michigan Upper Peninsula Habitat Work Group helping to identify the winter deer habitat (deer yards) that were once used by white-tailed deer for survival during the U.P.’s harsh winters. Now that many of these areas have been identified, the next step is determining what course of action should be taken to restore them.
SCI Foundation is always excited to work with local SCI Chapters across the globe and help shoulder the burden of the ever rising costs of conservation. We firmly believe that no single organization or department should have to walk alone. Forming a coalition and involving as many partners as possible, especially hunters, is a truly pivotal part of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
For more project updates and SCI Foundation news, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, like and subscribe to us on YouTube, or visit our website.
Safari Club International Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that funds and directs worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor education. Any contribution may tax deductible under Internal Revenue Code section 170(c) as a charitable contribution to the extent permitted by law. Tax deductible amount of gift is reduced by the “Fair market Value” of any goods, services, or advantages that a sponsor receives for the donation. EIN #86-0292099