A Crucial Question: Are We Shooting Enough Endangered Species?

posted at 10:45 am on April 1, 2012 by John Hawkins

Let’s say you’re a farmer and you discover an endangered red bellied tree sloth on your property tomorrow. What do you do? Well, you probably look left, look right, and if you don’t see anyone, you immediately run over it with your tractor and bury it in a hole before some government bureaucrat finds out it’s there and makes your life a living hell.

Of course, there’s a better alternative the government could pursue. It could encourage people to own and profit off of endangered species. That’s been happening in Texas, but a facet of the program may be about to come to an end.

This is the African savanna, Texas-style, where the hot climate and hilly terrain mimic parts of the world’s second-largest continent. The land — splayed with cedars, live oaks, low-lying blackbrush and the occasional prickly pear cactus — also is home to something far more exotic: three species of endangered African antelope.

Their very existence here depends on a tension between survival and death. To protect these species, ranchers here argue, we must kill them.

The antelope are magnificent: limber, with large, almost undulating horns, different on each species. There’s the scimitar-horned oryx, the addax and the dama gazelle, whose horns have a gentle, rising S-curve.

They’re nearly extinct in their native habitats of the African savanna. But because of an unusual exemption under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, these animals have thrived into the thousands by being hunted legally on sprawling ranches in the United States. In all, there are more than 5,000 such ranches in Texas, mostly in the south-central region known as Hill Country.

Alongside the antelope exist exotic animals of every stripe, including zebra, African bongos, kangaroo and regal rare Pere David’s deer, which are extinct in the wild.

…The Texas game ranches have the cachet of the wild, providing hunters with the experience, game and trophies of endangered and extinct-in-the-wild animals they want without leaving the United States. A successful trophy hunt can cost up to $15,000, depending on the beast.

…The exotic-ranch owners are in a furious fight with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — and animal rights groups — over having to get permits as of next Wednesday for the three endangered species of African antelope.

The ranchers argue, forcefully, that they’ve saved the antelope because they haven’t had to abide by the Endangered Species Act, which imposes paperwork and accounting requirements, since 2005, giving them the incentive to raise the animals for sport hunting.

Animal activists counter that conservation doesn’t mean raising an animal to kill it and put its head on the wall.

….The fact that the three antelope species went from a few dozen when they first arrived in Texas in the late 1970s to more than 17,000 in the organization’s 2010 census makes the conservation argument a “no-brainer,” said Seale, standing in front of a wall of mounted animal heads.

“They’re challenging animals to hunt,” said Nyle Maxwell, a West Texas rancher who has four car dealerships in the Austin area. “It provides us pleasure to hunt, meat we enjoy and a trophy on our wall.”

Maxwell was getting rid of his scimitar-horned oryx before next week’s permit deadline. Interviewed in late March, he was down to seven of the 12 he had on his ranch.

“If we don’t have an economic purpose, these animals are going to go away,” he said, adding that, “we very much enjoy the meat.”

The conservation argument doesn’t impress the ranchers’ nemesis: Friends of Animals.

“A Texas game ranch is not an ecosystem wherein animals are protected,” said Priscilla Feral, the president of Friends of Animals, which successfully sued the government to force the rule change on the African antelope. “They’re a commercial product.”

You know what other animal is a “commercial product?” Cows. What do you think the chances are that they’re going to go extinct any time soon? If Bald Eagles tasted like chicken, but had less calories, we’d have “Bald Eagle Freedom Burgers” on the menu at McDonald’s and you’d be buying their eggs at Piggly Wiggly.

You want to save any endangered species? Well, just remember that free enterprise works. Incentives also work. Let people find a way to profit off of a critter, get out of their way, and watch that endangered species make a comeback like Tim Tebow in the 4th quarter.

John Hawkins is a professional writer who runs Right Wing News and Linkiest. He’s also the co-owner of the The Looking Spoon. You can hear more from John Hawkins on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+, You Tube, & at PJ Media.


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Sorry about my many egregious typos. I’m terrible about that anyway, but it’s even worse when I’m in a hurry using an iPad.

juliesa on April 1, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Well, clean it up before a certain panfish sics the Typo Police on you.

novaculus on April 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Back in college, one of my friends and I seriously considered doing something like this (someday), just with tigers instead of antelope.

Fizzmaister on April 1, 2012 at 1:04 PM

This is just like the Christmas tree argument. “You’re killing a tree!”. But the tree takes 6-8 years to grow, and the farmer wouldn’t plant them, unless he knew he could sell them.
So on a 10 acre plot, you’ve got these trees, sucking up CO2 for 6-8 years. Until they are chopped down, and replanted. If everybody had Plastic (petroleum) trees, who would plant live ones? Mid January these trees are mulched, and the circle of life continues.
I’d like to see the percentage of kills versus releases on these animals. If you let 10 out, on a 1k acre ranch, you’re not gonna get them all.
We used to raise Pheasants for hunting. After releasing them, we’d be lucky to kill 60%. I’m sure natural predators got 30%..but we still see some around. And we stopped raising them 20 years ago.

hutch1200 on April 1, 2012 at 1:05 PM

@ExpressoBold: I should take culinary advice from someone who can’t spell espresso?

Seth Halpern on April 1, 2012 at 12:54 PM

.
To be accurate, I never gave you “culinary advice” since I didn’t suggest how you might cook Ms. Cupp’s foot before you “bite it.”
.
To explain the unique spelling of ExpressoBold, I encouraged myself to “Express yourself boldly” rather than feebly. When I saw nomenclature “Espresso Bold” on a Starbucks package, I just adopted it with a twist.
.
See? I can spell Espresso even when I Express myself Boldly. (You aren’t going to cook S. E. Cupp, are you, even though she spells her name Cupp, not Cup?) Done, and done.

ExpressoBold on April 1, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Actually, grilled bald eagle is pretty good, it tastes like gamey quail.

ray on April 1, 2012 at 11:00 AM

The best-eating bald eagles are the ones that have dined on the rare Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Exceptionally tasty.

slickwillie2001 on April 1, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Sorry, but never got the connection between conservatism and hunting animals. To each his own, though.

JFS61 on April 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

…I’m looking at 5 of them in my yard right now! Never saw one until 5 years ago. Because of coyotes…I don’t see pheasant, and I don’t hear anymore quail sounds.

KOOLAID2 on April 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM

If you would build homes on those empty lots in Detroit you wouldn’t have that problem.

RickB on April 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Sorry, but never got the connection between conservatism and hunting animals. To each his own, though.

JFS61 on April 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I’ve heard some good arguments made that conservatives should support responsible hunting in order to bolster support for gun ownership in general.

In other words, if you keep a reign on the knuckledraggers who think they have a right to shoot any animal, at any time, in any place, the public will be think a lot better of gun-owners in general.

I’d have to say there’s some real merit to that line of thought.

MelonCollie on April 1, 2012 at 1:14 PM

…I’m looking at 5 of them in my yard right now! Never saw one until 5 years ago. Because of coyotes…I don’t see pheasant, and I don’t hear anymore quail sounds.

KOOLAID2 on April 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM

.300 BLK…

CorporatePiggy on April 1, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Saw the headline and though there was going to be a picture of a Jackalope.

sadatoni on April 1, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Speaking of endangered species… I have an OT question about lawn care… anyone with a green thumb, shoot me an email: fo0hzy at gmail

Brand new house, grass looks terminal.

http://postimage.org/image/awdpml6hf
http://postimage.org/image/x9lg9e7f7

Ugly on April 1, 2012 at 1:44 PM

The commies just want their cut

Wish I could feed them all to a volcano

Sonosam on April 1, 2012 at 1:50 PM

In parts of the Horn of Africa, countries that have privatized game ownership have saved hundreds of species that were one time at the brink of extinction. The reason why, hunting.

South Africa has somewhere around $2,000 to $3,000 worth of conservation money per acre for the rhino, because of the money to hunt it an many other species. In Zimbabwe, where rhino hunting is illegal, it’s more like $2 per acre in conservation dollars.

Also, the countries that have wide-spread hunting also have the least amount of poaching. The ones that outlaw hunting, well they are typically where species are illegally hunted to the brink.

RMOccidental on April 1, 2012 at 1:54 PM

“Nobody” owns wild turkeys, yet their numbers have come roaring back in the U.S. after near-extinction due to proper game management.

M240H on April 1, 2012 at 11:14 AM

…I’m looking at 5 of them in my yard right now! Never saw one until 5 years ago. Because of coyotes…I don’t see pheasant, and I don’t hear anymore quail sounds.

KOOLAID2 on April 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Here in my part of Virginia, we have deer, quail, coyotes (with a bounty), turkeys, etc. It’s a zoo out there! The problem with killing the coyotes is that the deer population goes crazy. I generally don’t kill a coyote unless it is near my other farm animals.

BierManVA on April 1, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Liberals always choose what doesn’t work.

And perhaps private property rights here versus none in much of Africa make reasons for animals endangered there successful here.

Speakup on April 1, 2012 at 2:08 PM

See? I can spell Espresso even when I Express myself Boldly. (You aren’t going to cook S. E. Cupp, are you, even though she spells her name Cupp, not Cup?) Done, and done.

ExpressoBold on April 1, 2012 at 1:07 PM

I’d like to cook her dinner though.

arnold ziffel on April 1, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Well, clean it up before a certain panfish sics the Typo Police on you.

novaculus on April 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Heh, I would if I could! :)

juliesa on April 1, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Sorry, but never got the connection between conservatism and hunting animals. To each his own, though.

JFS61 on April 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

——

Well just to start off with, hunters pay for most of the conservation that gets done, through hunting licenses, Pitman Robertson taxes, and voluntary work and donations. Hunters groups like Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Bighorn Society, and MANY more are the primary reason we have healthy populations of waterfowl, elk, turkey and others. The only reason Texas has bighorn sheep is because the Sociiety puts so much money and hands on work into it, and the program has been very successful. Desert Bighorn were extirpated from TX about 60 years ago, but now we have them back because of hunters groups.

I could go and on, because I’m directly involved with several of these groups, but in short, without hunters there’s not enough habitat, and without habitat there’s no wildlife.

I don’t hunt anymore, but a lot of non hunters I know who are smart and care about wildlife go ahead and buy hunting licenses every year to help pay for wildlife management.

juliesa on April 1, 2012 at 2:26 PM

So now that I’ve posted that long comment I realize that I misread JFS61′s comment.

I better quit while I’m behind.

juliesa on April 1, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Want to see over-protection at work? I give you the Canada Goose. The pest to end all pests. But at one time they were protected, for no good reason. You were only allowed to hunt them through a lottery system that strictly limited the number of hunters. Today they have totally destroyed the habitat of other species of wild fowl and are a bane to farmers, public docks, public parks, and golf courses. Heck they even land in my back yard. And don’t get me started on wild turkeys(the bird not the booze.)

Deanna on April 1, 2012 at 2:43 PM

bluegill on April 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_h8C_rCbgU

Del Dolemonte on April 1, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Kevin K. on April 1, 2012 at 10:58 AM

.
Hmmmmmmm . . . . . . I dunno’. That idea sounds suspiciously “Capitalist”.

Are you one of Ted’s friend’s?

listens2glenn on April 1, 2012 at 11:04 AM

The former husband of “Hanoi Jane”?! Perish the thought!

But you’ve found my weakness: fan of Capitalism. Now I’m going to banned from my university’s alumni association.

Kevin K. on April 1, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Free enterprise = BAD
Feewings = GOOD

And again ideology trumps jobs, income, and sanity.

TinMan13 on April 1, 2012 at 3:53 PM

There’s room for all God’s creatures.

Right next to the mashed potatoes.

davidk on April 1, 2012 at 10:58 AM

I’m sure that there are many species who would agree that davidk would make a fine meal a la carte. No potatoes needed.

DevilsPrinciple on April 1, 2012 at 11:18 AM

True enough. But there’s a reason I am at the top of the food chain.

(BTW: referenced species don’t eat mashed potatoes ’cause they don’t know how to make gravy.)

davidk on April 1, 2012 at 3:55 PM

“Nobody” owns wild turkeys, yet their numbers have come roaring back in the U.S. after near-extinction due to proper game management.

M240H on April 1, 2012 at 11:14 AM

To be fair, wild turkey and city pigeon populations have much in common. Seeing a herd of a hundred or so turkeys working over a stubble field is pretty convincing evidence that they can do their own damn management.

PersonFromPorlock on April 1, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Yum.

WeekendAtBernankes on April 1, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Seeing a herd of a hundred or so turkeys

Double-yum.

WeekendAtBernankes on April 1, 2012 at 4:48 PM

“Just pretend you are shooting Obama…”

0bamaderangementsyndrom on April 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM

“Just pretend you are shooting Obama…”
0bamaderangementsyndrom on April 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM

I guess you are effed

Sonosam on April 1, 2012 at 5:32 PM

“Just pretend you are shooting Obama…”

0bamaderangementsyndrom on April 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Someone has an appropriate screen name. Just sayin’.

stvnscott on April 1, 2012 at 5:43 PM

No Ban Hammer? WTF? This is not a Lib site.

Dingbat63 on April 1, 2012 at 6:35 PM

I’ve always believed that canned hunts are nothing but embarrassing outings for fat white trash billy bobs who need the thrill of the kill in order to feel like real men. These are the kinds of losers who will raise quail, throw them out in a field and then go chase after them seconds after releasing them.

It just doesn’t seem very sporting to me. Many of these losers will then mount the heads of their large game to prove what great hunters they are?

Sorry, I think those people are embarrassing. I prefer hunters who foremost respect nature (and don’t minimize the seriousness of endangered species protection like our second-rate Wally George-wannabe John Hawkins here) and who don’t need to create articifical and favorable hunting conditions for them to make their kills.

Also, this John Hawkins guy is the worst HotAir blogger yet. He sounds like a cliched, cartoony right wing caricature imagined by a liberal. This site is really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this guy.

John Hawkins, your lazy posts are nothing but fluff to rile up like-minded readers.
You should stick to WND.

bluegill on April 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Who is Hawkins fluffing up with a post like this besides someone like you, who sounds like a cliched, humorless, easily excited and typically clueless PETA member who resents that capitalists know how to manage environmental systems better than the incompetent nitwits on their side?

Bizarro No. 1 on April 1, 2012 at 7:11 PM

0bamaderangementsyndrom on April 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Stop being an azz.

Cindy Munford on April 1, 2012 at 7:14 PM

No Ban Hammer? WTF? This is not a Lib site.

Dingbat63 on April 1, 2012 at 6:35 PM

No, its a conservative site, and that quote was reported at a santorum event. such is the derangement and sickness that permeates the Conservative and tea party movement

0bamaderangementsyndrom on April 1, 2012 at 8:31 PM

I’m reporting you to the U.S. Secret Service.

No joke.

Hayabusa on April 1, 2012 at 9:20 PM

I hope this is the year that I make the leap from gun to bow. I want to hunt before December gets here,(OH) and hunt some warmer weather and rutting bucks.

Buck Turgidson on April 1, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Canned hunts are for guys with little peckers and peas sized nads. Wild hunts are for men who enjoy nature and the thrill of the hunt.

FireBlogger on April 1, 2012 at 11:53 PM

Canned hunts are for guys with little peckers and peas sized nads. Wild hunts are for men who enjoy nature and the thrill of the hunt.

FireBlogger on April 1, 2012 at 11:53 PM

I’ve always said that there were two types of people who go out with guns on the weekends – Those who like to kill, and those who like to hunt. I don’t care for hunting myself, but I can cut some slack for the latter group. The former can go to Hades as far as I’m concerned.

JFS61 on April 2, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Ah, the boldness of the hunt. Hiding in a tree waiting for a dumb animal to walk by so you can shoot it with absolutely no fear that it will shoot back. But you could catch a terrible chill.

plewis on April 2, 2012 at 7:58 AM

*SIGH*
Many of the posts here are very well thought out & informative.
Several are extremely judgmental & based on abject stupidity, bias, & willful & perhaps some accidental ignorance.

My husband & I are ranchers in SW North Dakota.
We live in a heavily farmed area.
Just to the south of us not far is the Grand River in SD (Cheyenne-Sioux Rez). That area isn’t really farmed.
We up here provide at lot of habitat for the native & non-native animals like, turkeys, white tail & muley deer, beaver & muskrat, coons, Chinese pheasant, , I could go on & on.
In fact, in Hettinger county, there is no turkey season (I don’t think), bcs the pop is quite low bcs of monoculture mass farming.
Along the Cannonball where we live is a bunch of turkeys, abt a couple dozen. We provide them habitat & they’re in our yard every morning.
Those who ranch provide habitat not only for their livestock, but the wildlife as well.
We don’t let anyone but family & one friend hunt here. But we could charge admission if we wanted & make some cash.
I don’t begrudge any rancher for that.
As far as canned hunting goes, STFWHAT? They’re not in a feedlot getting shot. The animals are in LARGE enclosures of thousands of acres & have a huge habitat to roam around in free just as they would in their native areas.
Those of you making judgements about this stuff have no clue. You do not live around animals nor observe their behavior enough to know a damned thing about this.
And this “Commons” crap is nothing more than a communist agenda to seize private land.
Canned hunting ‘immoral’? I’ll tell you what is immoral. Taking a man’s private property & proceeding to tell him you know better than he does in taking care of his animals, even though you don’t know a damned thing about caring for animals yourself.
I live in nature & observe it EVERY DAY of my life.
A ‘wild’ animal is still wild if you leave it the hell alone, but provide a habitat for it to live in.
I FEED my cows & horses. But I do not feed the turkeys. They just live here. WILD.
I could fence the place & they’d STILL be wild. I could shoot them & eat them & they’d STILL be wild.
Some of you may not think it ‘sporting’ enough that an animal gets shot by some trophy hunter, but it’s none of your business. The animal is in the same habitat they’d be in, in ‘nature’.
The fence itself would not really keep them in. What really keeps them in is the nice place to live the ranchers are providing for them.
The fence is really to stop them from overpopulating the surrounding areas & moving on to populate places they don’t need to be.
To all of you who don’t know $hit about ranching, whether it’s an Ibex, Zebra, Cow, or a horse, GTFO of the damned house & come live in my shoes for a full year.
Then you’ll know what this is about & why this sort of thing only helps critters.

Badger40 on April 2, 2012 at 8:25 AM

Sorry, but never got the connection between conservatism and hunting animals. To each his own, though.

JFS61 on April 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I think the connection you are mystified by is PROPERTY RIGHTS & the 2nd AMENDMENT.

You clearly have some kind of disdain for hunting, or at least some types of hunting.

I think we would all do well to realize that, like you said, to each his own.
I’ve got so called trophy bucks on my wall the hubby shot. One I ordered the death of.
He was beautiful. I also ATE HIM. And he was very tasty.
There are lots of people who wince when talking about killing animals.
The thing to remember is we are all omnivores & have every right to kill, eat & use animals.
To disparage another’s desire to do this only gives the enviro-animals rights nutbags more ammo.
Consider the war on horse slaughter. Just bcs some of you think the horse is a ‘majestic’ noble steed over a cow (which is JUST as smart & interesting & wonderful if you took the time to know them) doesn’t give people the right to disparage the right of the horse owner to slaughter them.
Look I don’t think ‘canned’ hunting is interesting nor do I consider the hunting culture like you see on those hunting TV shows interesting.
I do not find the cowboy dude culture all that interesting either.
In fact, there was a time I considered dudes quite vile.
But they’re just someone who is pursuing what they love. And I have matured enough to realize that even though it’s not my cup of tea, I’ll not disparage the right of anyone to pursue their happiness.
Bcs being a dude or a canned hunting fanatic does not hurt anyone or anything.
I just simply do not warm to it.
So instead of passing judgement on the fact you might think it ‘immoral’, why don’t we instead focus on our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS & then leave others be.

Badger40 on April 2, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Sorry, but never got the connection between conservatism and hunting animals.

The hunters pay license fees. The states use this money to protect/expand habitat. This increases the number of animals available to hunt, which brings in more fees, which allows for more conservation work, which further increases the number of animals.

Without the hunters, the states would not have the money to do anything. The system is self perpetuating and ever expanding.

bartbeast on April 2, 2012 at 11:27 AM

I’m reporting you to the U.S. Secret Service.

No joke.

Hayabusa on April 1, 2012 at 9:20 PM


you are fvuking idiot did u see the link?
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/03/as-santorum-fires-gun-woman-shouts-pretend-its-obama/

0bamaderangementsyndrom on April 2, 2012 at 11:37 AM

I have nothing against hunting at all. I just don’t like canned hunts. I live in an area where deer are a major road hazard.

SC.Charlie on April 2, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Shoot, Shovel and shut up!

Bulletchaser on April 2, 2012 at 12:41 PM

“Just pretend you are shooting Obama…”

0bamaderangementsyndrom on April 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM

This is not even funny. Why is he not banned?

Bulletchaser on April 2, 2012 at 12:44 PM

When the animals are owned, and in this case generate revenue through hunting, the owner has an economic incentive to ensure that the resource is not wiped out. If the owner JUST allowed unlimited taking of the animals, they would be gone and while he might pocket some instant cash, that would be it. No more income and no way to generate similar income in the future.

That is what can and does happen when the animals are “not property”.

These owners are conserving the animals because they have a business that depends on those animals. If it didn’t pay, they wouldn’t do it — it costs money to maintain a habitat, live, and pay property taxes. There is nothing that says that a “conservation” group couldn’t get the money together, buy a large acreage, stock it with endangered species and designate it a “preserve”, and continue to raise and expend funds to maintain the preserve. I assume most “conservationists” would not be too put out if eventually the endangered species on the preserve had to be culled because of overpopulation.

Even if there was occasions where the animal population was “wiped out” on a particular ranch, the story indicates that there are some 5,000 such ranches. It would be ludicrous to think that every one of those ranches would deliberately wipe out its source of income. If it didn’t pay, then those ranches as configured would go away and the animals would also go away, as seems to be the case.

Russ808 on April 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM

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