Guns and Gear

Texas hunting ranchers fight for right to save African antelope species

The Fish and Wildlife Service agrees that hunting has been a successful management practice for more than a century. Permits, bag limits and federal excise taxes used to fund state fish and game agencies were all instituted in the late 19th century, largely at the urging of hunters who were concerned about entire species disappearing.

LaSorte said the government’s plan is just another example of federal overreach.

“This is an example of the Endangered Species Act needing a complete overhaul,” he said, adding that game ranchers in Texas have “been left to their own devices and it’s worked well.”

“The original exemption was written for a reason. U.S. Fish and Wildlife realized they [the ranchers] were doing a great job.”

This Scimitar-horned oryx is a breeding herd sire on a Texas
game ranch (Elizabeth Cary Mungall, courtesy of
Kyle Wildlife LP and the Exotic Wildlife Association)

Meanwhile, Feral told “60 minutes” that she would rather see the animals extinct than hunted — at least in Texas.

If the animals existed only to be hunted, Logan asked her, would she rather they not exist at all?

“Not in Texas, no,” Feral replied, later adding, “The future for oryxes is Africa. It’s not Texas.”

Logan pressed her on the point. “Can the future not be both? Don’t they have a greater chance of survival the more of them there are?”

“In their native lands,” Feral replied.

“I don’t think you can say regardless of where they are,” the animal rights activist said. ” A Texas hunting ranch is not the same as being in a reserve in Senegal.”

LaSorte said this sentiment is fairly typical among hard-line animal rights activists, but it’s usually hidden instead of being articulated so plainly.

“You don’t often actually hear them say ‘we’d rather have all of them dead than have a few of them hunted’,” he said.

Ray Dockery manages the White Point Ranch, a hunting ranch that has a herd of oryx. White Point allows only “fair chase” hunts, meaning that there is no guarantee of a hunter making a kill.

Dockery told TheDC that the case isn’t really about the antelopes, but about hunting in general.

“It’ll be into whitetail [deer] next,” he said. “It’ll be into every animal we’ve got if they win one case.”

According to Dockery, the price of hunting an oryx has already dropped. Last year a hunt brought $2,500. It’s now just $1,500.

“It’ll just cut the market down to nothing,” Dockery said. “The value of them is just going to go down to where they’re not going to be worth having.”

“I’ve sold a bunch of them because of this situation.”

Dockery noted that with Texas in the midst of a drought, the cost of feeding the animals is high enough that no rancher will keep them around without an economic incentive.

“It’s going to cause the animals to be … extinct because people are going to have to get rid of them,” he said in a telephone interview.

Dockery gave a disgusted grunt and added, “The bad part about it is, limiting the take here in the U.S. is never going to help the animals in Africa.”

“It’s not helping anything.”

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