25 July 2012
Advocates Urge Senate to Oppose Regressive Measure
Washington, DC -- WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals have called foul on Representative John Carter's (R-TX-31st) amendment to the House of Representatives' Interior Appropriations bill that would reinstate a discredited U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that allowed canned hunting of captive-bred African scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelles. Representative Carter's amendment would also exempt reinstatement of the rule from further judicial review.
"Some people will throw thousands of dollars at canned hunting operations to procure an endangered animal," said Lee Hall, legal director for Friends of Animals. "And they don't want the federal government to have any say in it."
Tourist ranches, mostly in Texas, want to sell hunters the opportunity to kill captive-bred African antelopes in the United States. Until January 2012, they could do so without federal regulation. Although the oryx, addax, and gazelle have been listed as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act since 2005, the original listing rule allowed landowners to continue offering "canned" (fenced in) hunting for antelopes to trophy seekers. That loophole was closed this year and now hunting operations must apply for a permit before killing members of three species of African antelopes in the U.S. The permits require applicants to demonstrate how hunting the animals furthers their conservation in the wild, but Representative Carter wants to waive the permit requirement by reinstating the old rule with the loophole.
"Ranchers claim that breeding and killing benefits these animals, but at the same time they don't want to be bothered to apply for a permit," continued Hall. "The 'shooting them to save them' rhetoric is nonsensical."
Notably, international travel to obtain the same antelope trophies in Africa has long been banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). The U.S. may violate CITES by enacting the antelope rider. "The U.S. included foreign species listing in the Endangered Species Act to give CITES teeth, and now Congress is seeking exemptions to that provision 40 years later," said Mark Salvo, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. Hunting other captive-bred endangered species in the United States requires a permit, Salvo observed, adding, "Congress should not deprive the Fish and Wildlife Service of the means of evaluating the conservation value of these hunting ranches."# # #
ANTELOPES RIDER H.R. 6091, Sec. 423. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on September 2, 2005 (70 Fed. Reg. 52310 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review.
AFRICAN ANTELOPES CONSERVATION TIMELINE In 2005 the federal government agreed with Friends of Animals that the oryx, addax, and dama gazelles are endangered, their numbers having plummeted in the deserts of North Africa over the past 50 years. The causes of decline include desertification, human encroachment, ranching, regional military activity, and hunting. Globally, more of these antelopes live in captivity than live free in the wild. Unfortunately, the same Endangered Species Act listing rule exempted domestic commercial hunting ranches from the requirement to obtain a permit prior to hunting these antelopes. In 2009, Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians successfully challenged the loophole as illegal under the Endangered Species Act. The federal court remanded the 2005 listing rule back to the Fish and Wildlife Service to close the loophole. In January 2012, the Service finally posted the revised rule that requires any person or entity under the jurisdiction of the U.S. to apply for a permit prior to offering hunting of the three antelopes in the U.S. Successful applicants must demonstrate how hunting (i.e., killing) the listed species contributes to their conservation in the wild.
WHAT YOU CAN DO The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has passed H.R. 6091 that includes the antelopes rider. The full House is expected to pass the bill and convey it to the Senate this summer. Please contact your U.S. Senators today at 202-224-3121 and urge them to OPPOSE the antelopes rider and all other anti-environmental riders on the House appropriations bill. Explain that the antelopes rider would needlessly deregulate domestic canned hunting for three African antelopes to the detriment of the species' conservation.