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FoA Challenges Congress' Betrayal of Endangered Antelope

March 05, 2014 | Wildlife Law Program

Today international animal protection organization Friends of Animals filed a Complaint challenging the constitutionality of a provision that was buried in the 2014 Federal Budget by Congressman John Carter of Texas that seeks to eliminate Endangered Species Act protection for three species of African antelope held captive on U.S. sport-hunting ranches. 

"After the better part of a decade on the losing end of Friends of Animals’ efforts to protect these amazing antelope, private hunting ranch operators that profit on the killing of these animals chose to show their disrespect for our justice system by turning to their Congressional pawn, Representative John Carter,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “Fortunately for the antelope, Friends of Animals won't let them be killed so easily and will continue to fight on their behalf in the courtroom."

Mike Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program, explains that the provision in the Federal Budget, Section 127, purports to undo Friends of Animals’ 2009 victory in which a federal judge told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that it could not exempt these hunting ranches from the permitting requirements in Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. Section 127 also seeks to interfere with Friends of Animals' 2013 lawsuit challenging whether USFWS's permitting of more than 100 of these hunting ranches violated the Endangered Species Act's conservation purposes.

"Representative Carter's attempt to strip legal protections for these endangered animals reeks of special interest favoritism,” Harris said. “His budget rider is not only harmful to the antelope, but also to American democracy. It is now up to the court to stop this misuse of Congressional power." 

Today, addax and dama gazelles are nearly wiped out in Northern Africa due to hunting, war, desertification of habitat, human settlement and agribusiness. FoA has facilitated the reintroduction of the antelope within Ferlo National Park in northwest Senegal. Through member support, FoA funds habitat restoration efforts at Ferlo National Park. For example, in fiscal year 2013, $66,000 went toward expanding the Oryx Fence Project, which includes dama gazelles. One hundred and 20 oryx and 20 dama gazelles benefitted, along with other animals, from these funds. FoA has also collaborated with European and Middle Eastern specialists in captive breeding of arid ecosystem gazelle species to restore these animals to the wild.

The full Complaint can be viewed right here. 


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