The U.S. House and Senate will consider Dallas Safari Club-backed legislation that would exempt from endangered species protections three antelope species nearly extinct in their native countries but thriving on ranches in Texas.
The exemptions would clear the way for ranchers to maintain their herds and to offer hunts for these game animals without government intervention.
Hunting revenue provides incentive for ranchers to ensure flourishing populations of exotic scimitar horned oryx, Dama gazelle and addax.
The antelope species are known in Texas as the “Three Amigos.”
DSC has been working on this issue for several years now, and the organization is grateful that Congress has included the legislation in the FY 2014 Omnibus bill. The provision, offered by Congressman John Carter (TX-31) exempts U.S. populations of these animals from endangered species protections, said Ben Carter, DSC executive director.
The Three Amigos were exempt from 2005 until 2012, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-listed them under the Endangered Species Act. Since then, populations have fallen dramatically. The Exotic Wildlife Association estimates that scimitar horned oryx numbers in Texas are now at nearly half of their 2010 levels.
Carter said, “It’s time for the federal government to step out of the way, because ESA status has been deadly for these species. An ESA exemption would give these species real value, and that, in turn, clears the way for their numbers to go back up.”
DSC partnered with the Exotic Wildlife Association, and others to bring Three Amigos concerns to lawmakers. It could not have been done without the help from Dallas Congressmen Pete Sessions (TX-32), and Ken Calvert (CA-42), and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Others who have been extremely helpful along the way include Reps. Lamar Smith (TX-21), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).