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60 Minutes Tackles Hunting Endangered Species in Texas

by Dylan Polk   |  January 31st, 2012 23

Scimitar-horned oryx

A herd of scimitar-horned oryx graze in a field in Hampshire, England. In Texas, ranches like this offer trophy hunters the opportunity to hunt the endangered oryx for a hefty price -- and believe it or not, it's helping the species.

Texas isn’t as well-known for its population of wild African game as it is for its longhorn cattle, but believe it or not, the Lone Star State hosts a diverse collection animals from Africa, Asia and Europe. And the kicker? For an understandably hefty price tag, you can hunt some of the rarest animals in the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some animal rights activists have a problem with this.

On Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes, CBS reporter Lara Logan took a look at the boom in non-native species deep in the heart of Texas, a trend that began over half a century ago when zoos dumped their surplus animals into the Texas countryside. As it turns out, ranchers took a liking to seeing the animals on their properties and began cultivating them. The movement has paid dividends, as three species of African antelope have been brought back from the brink of extinction, including the scimitar-horned oryx, which has been classified as Extinct in the Wild in its native habitat.

The animal’s rarity drew trophy hunters to Texas, driving up the oryx’s value and providing ranchers with the money needed to keep the animals alive — in the scimitar-horned oryx’s case, the price is a whopping $10,000 per tag. The most expensive is the cape buffalo at $50,000. What’s more, ranchers make sure no more than 10 percent of the herd is killed per year. According to the report, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with the hunts, saying “hunting…provides an economic incentive for…ranchers to continue to breed these species,” and that “hunting…reduces the threat of the species’ extinction.”

Click here to watch the entire segment.

Despite the ranches’ contributions to the preservation of the scimitar-horned oryx and other endangered species, the movement has drawn the ire of animal rights activists like Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. Logan asked if the oryx exists in Texas to be hunted, if she would rather see it exist at all. Feral’s response? “Not in Texas, no.”

Conservationalist Chris Condy told 60 Minutes that the ranchers’ movement was no doubt saving the scimitar-horned oryx, citing a population somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 animals, but Feral’s position has nevertheless gained legal traction, and in the next few weeks, the U.S. government will make it illegal to hunt the scimitar-horned oryx and two other non-native species without a federal permit — which is nearly impossible to obtain — reneging its earlier position that the animals were considered private property.

No doubt, Condy said, this will devalue the oryx, and in a matter of years, it will be extinct in Texas, too.

It’s a sad state of affairs, not only because this game animal is once again facing extinction, but because the government is turning a blind eye to facts. Instead of looking at actual, concrete numbers — which had apparently been sufficient for the U.S. government for years — Washington has now chosen to listen to the ramblings of an activist with little bearing on the situation other than her own pathos-driven babble.

After all, if the scimitar-horned oryx is thriving in a controlled environment without harming the local ecosystem, who’s to say it belongs only in Africa, where poaching could very well wipe the species out — again? Private business should be allowed to function as long as there is demand, but unfortunately Feral doesn’t see it this way.  Soon she may get her wish to see it removed from Texas — and the planet.

  • Eija Bucciarelli

    My first reaction to Lara Logan's segment on 'trophy hunting' endangered exotic antelopes in Texas was somewhat appalled, However, the whole setup started to make sense, when I realized the amount of animals allowed for hunting is controlled and hunting itself requires actually the act of hunting rather than a kind of slaughter in the zoo.
    What I couldn't understand that no one in this segment mentioned the pure need for controlling the population growth of these animals. In the lack of their natural ecosystem and foremost without any natural predators they would be able to thrive and breed to unsustainable numbers. We, the human race, have disturbed the balance of our natural world, we have lost so many species already. Now it is our responsibility to save what we can and in any which way can.
    Let hunters hunt (legally) , let ranchers make money (legally) . Let's thank ranchers for allowing these beautiful creatures roam their lands while at the same saving them from other "predators' such as lions, poachers, drought and famine of African plains
    Eija B.

  • Jay Torrence

    When did PETA ever think logically about wildlife????????
    What more could be expected ????????

  • Stan Allen

    The federal government saying what a man can do with his own property in Texas or anywhere else just tells you what kind of out of control government we have in Washington DC. This speaks volumes for the argument of secession. Kust half kidding but surely you get my drift!

  • Robert Hedrick

    Ms. Feral and her group really take advantage of their ignorance.

  • Big E

    While this particular animal, and other exotics, are the touchstone of this debate, the real issue is the fact that the "conservationist" don't really want to "covserve" – their actual goal is to outlaw firearms and the hunting of all animals, regardless of rarity!

  • Tony

    Just wait until a free range oryx (if ranchers are not allowed to sell hunting I am sure some will be turned out) crashes into an animal rights activest car (like so many deer do) injuring or killing their loved ones will they demand the Goverment eliminate them. When are these people going to get a real job or maybe they could take care or the people who are poor and jobless. Leave the working man and his hobbies alone.

  • James

    Why does it not surprise me that the bozos from 60 minutes came out with such a position? In their supposedly even-handed approach to the gun issue a while back, they claimed that their researchers had not found one single study showing that guns can prevent crimes, even though a few months earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had quoted several such studies in their ruling in favor of Heller and gun rights.

  • Maynard Runkle

    The so-called "bozos" of 60 minutes deserve a lot of credit for educating us on this issue. They were presenting both sides but it seemed to me that the young woman interviewer was making it clear that it was better to hunt the antelope to control their numbers and bring in money to pay the bills. As a liberal, I become angry that many conservatives claim we are all for gun control and are against hunting. Just as I believe the human species needs to control our overpopulation, I also believe it is wrong to think that you just let animals reproduce to the point of over-grazing their habitat. Harvesting with limits is the only way to enable these animals to live in a healthy environment. Without carnivores, who can exert control to maintain a balance? It has to be humans. Some day, if the desertification of the Soutwest contines, it may be animals such as the hardy Oryx that will become our source of meat.

  • gabbott

    Captain King brought nilgai antelope to the King Ranch early in the 20th century. They continue to thrive in that region.

  • bill padgett Idaho

    they never get the facts till after the show. they should have had Ted Nugent there to enlighten them on the facts. Go GET EM UNCLE TED,

  • Lou

    Weather animals are raised for food(cows,pigs,chickens)or for hunting what is the difference.Trophy hunters only hunt mature animals and cull old females.After this law passes the Oryx will become extinct even in Texas. Glad i already have a Oryx on my wall.

  • Steve Azinger, Tx

    The price to hunt them now has dropped as low as $1500, and may drop lower before they can't be hunted. The value they add to a hunting ranch is gone, if its not broke don't fix it. It's a sad day for conservation.

  • Carlton

    Unfortunately this won't ever happen because animal rights activists nor their pathetic families would dare venture into the good parts of Texas where this story is taking place. Nice thought though –

    • ModerateMan

      I personally think that if a population can sustain culling, then there is nothing wrong with charging for the hunt, and managing that population responsibly. Of course if the "hunt" is canned, that is just a cheesy hunter (to me). But the moral implication for the killing of the animal isn't affected in my mind. It could be shot, or put through a slaughterhouse and it is the same difference.

      But…I mean, come on…"the working man"?
      Last I checked, Ted Nugent wasn't a "working man", he is a millionaire musician.
      "their pathetic families"?
      And children are not responsible for the choices their parents make. Let's elevate the conversation and not be children ourselves. There are reasonable people on both sides of this issues out there to discuss this with, I swear!

  • Jerry allen, AL

    The only thing that needs to be harvested here are PETA Wolves. Mabe the peta poopers should be rounded up and put out to pasture in Texas. Then the Texas ranchers could charge a fee for all people to see what idiots look like in the wild.

  • Kiani

    anyone whois against the anti hunting law that is going to be placed on April 4th 2012 please join and support us on facebook, for a friend and i have created a support group to stop this from happening! The support group is on facebook called Hunters against Anti-Hunting.

  • Phil

    It's unfortunate that PETA (which I'm a supporter) followers and hunters(which I'm also a supporter) here making comments make wide generalizations of eachother. I believe in treating animals ethically, AND I believe people should be able to hunt and eat meat (I do). The two things are not exclusive. Hopefully the animals will not go extinct AND people will still be able to hunt.

  • Phil
  • Rob

    Their hate of hunting is stronger than their "love" of animals. Simple but sad.

  • Paul

    Just kind of sad that someone like that is allowed to use the legal system against a legitimate conservation effort. The problem here is all the people who preach conservation but have no clue of what it is actually about. We hunters are the people who really support conservation. Not bleeding hearts like that lady.

  • Dan

    Dan Thank God for mother nature, the left wing will not fly by itself, it will crash, with the right wing to balance, life flys on…..

  • go2canoe

    I'll be very sad if Texas or the Texans don't put up a strong fight, and I hope some organization comes to their aid. After all, pennsylvania and other eastern states would not have elk if it were not for trapping and relocation. If we are next where do I sign up to join the fight?

  • WATCHER

    I’m with the maggots, they should become extict rather than be repopulated and allow to run free. I wonder if the dogooders even know what they look like.Without hunters, shooters and fishermen, there are no funds for consevation!

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