Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) recently co-sponsored the 7th World Mountain Ungulate Conference (WMUC) with its official partner organization, the Wild Sheep Foundation, in Bozeman, MT in September 2019. The WMUC is a scientific meeting of international wildlife biologists and managers from across North America, Europe and Central Asia focusing on wild sheep and goat conservation.
Many attendee presentations included SCIF funded researchers, such as the University of Alberta studying cougar-bighorn predator-prey dynamics and community-based markhor programs in Pakistan.
“We enjoy a productive relationship with the Wild Sheep Foundation, and we were happy to provide the co-sponsorship for this meeting”, said Joe Goergen, SCIF Conservation Manager, in his opening remarks. “This conference demonstrates the true spirit and maturation of the SCIF-WSF partnership in action.”
The 7th meeting this year represented the first time hosted in North America, with an agenda emphasizing habitat, harvest and sustainable use. Dr. Val Geist, the famous founder of the North America Model of Wildlife Management, opened the conference with a keynote speech and was followed by sessions on taxonomy and genetics, ecology and behavior and the importance of disease in wild sheep management. Presentations were given on research and management issues all the way from Alberta to Mexico and mountain ranges as diverse from the Alps to the Himalayans.
Both the SCI Southwest Montana Chapter and WSF Montana Chapter also contributed to the WMUC, showing local support for the meeting and partnership.
The WMUC follows a meeting of conservation Committee and staff leadership from both SCIF and WSF earlier this year to identify priority conservation actions and strengthen their existing partnership.
“We have a common vision in wildlife conservation with WSF being the leaders in wild sheep and SCIF as leaders in international sustainable use issues,” said Jim Hammill, SCIF Conservation Committee Chair. “As natural partners and after these successful meetings, we’re ready to take our partnership to the next level and are better positioned to achieve our shared goals.”
The two organizations entered into an official MOU back in 2017, recognizing interests in wild sheep and goats, significant overlap in hunting membership and greater success by pooling resources and expertise. SCIF and WSF have since shared conservation strategies for working both in North America and Central Asia, and are prominent members of IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, whose guiding principles of sustainable use are deeply integrated into SCIF-WSF programs. To expand on previous accomplishments, SCIF and WSF will develop a collaborative strategy for advancing their shared mission.
One of the top priorities will continue to be the Kazakhstan Argali Conservation Initiative, a model program for a Central Asian led effort funded through conservation directed hunting permits and supported by this partnership’s expertise. Other priorities in the region will include community-based conservation in Tajikistan and exploring expansion into Pakistan. The partnership will also address critical issues facing wild sheep in North America, most importantly disease issues and interactions between wild sheep and domestic livestock.
“Supporting wildlife conservation and community use are key for the future of the hunting industry,” said Jack Atechson, Jr., WSF Conservation Committee Chair. “We want to share that conservation message with our memberships and lead strong organizations into the future.”
Together SCIF and WSF are “First for Wildlife” and seek to “Put and Keep Sheep on the Mountain”.