There are a lot of choices when it comes to putting your wildlife conservation donations to good use and representing your particular outdoor interests. One of them you might consider is Safari Club International. Grant Winn II and Jim Weatherly have been involved in the fund-raising and other activities of the Five Valleys Chapter of Safari Club International since 1996. It boasts membership from six area counties. Each year the chapter holds a fund-raising banquet in Missoula. The year, the banquet will be Dec. 8 at the University Center Ballroom.
I asked both Winn and Weatherly where the money goes that is raised at the banquet. What I found out was pretty impressive. Eighty-five percent of the money raised goes to work right here in western Montana. The chapter has funded or participated in the following projects:
— A study on habitat use by moose in the Garnet area, included capturing, collaring and monitoring moose movements in the area.
— A bighorn sheep self-colonization study in three areas of western Montana, capturing and collaring sheep in the three herds to determine extent of range used and possible interaction with other herds.
— Pledged funding for a proposed mountain goat transplant in the Scapegoat Wilderness; a project that is currently under review by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.
— A billboard campaign that informed the public about wildlife resource funding provided by hunters.
— A scholarship to the wilderness leadership school in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for a high school teacher.
— Testified at the Montana Legislature on issues affecting hunting and hunting rights.
— Participated in a hunters-for-the-hungry program by encouraging hunters to donate excess food to people and organizations in need.
— And, of course, they also supported the national Safari Club International organization which maintains a full-time government affairs office in Washington, D.C., to monitor hunting and conservation issues.
The fund-raising banquet includes an auction of some hunts – some of them once-in-a-lifetime adventures. If you have ever wanted to hunt New Zealand red stag and goats, Alberta moose with a bow, trophy elk and mule deer with a bow in eastern Montana, or head to Africa for a safari, then you will want to attend this year’s banquet. Tickets are $35 for singles or $65 for couples. They are available at Sportsman Surplus and Bob Wards in Missoula, or you can call either 1-800-650-4868 or (406) 642-3171.
In today’s world we can use all the help we can get when it comes to protecting the rights of hunters and supporting wildlife conservation. It appears to me that the Five Valley Chapter of Safari Club International is doing just that.