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Friends of Animals Win: African Antelope Shielded From Safari Club and Trophy Tourists

June 23, 2009 | Environment / Press Releases / Hunting Ranches / Hunting & Wildlife Management / Free-Living Animals / Take Action

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

Priscilla Feral, President, Friends of Animals, Darien, Connecticut
Current tel: (at Primarily Primates sanctuary): 830.755.4616, or mobile: 203.219.0428. E-mail

Mike Harris, Director of the Environmental Law Clinic,
University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, Colorado
Tel: 303.871.6140, or mobile: 720.841.0400. Email

WASHINGTON DC - A decision has been issued in FRIENDS OF ANIMALS v. KEN SALAZAR (Civil Action 04-01660): The Interior Department's US Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by issuing a blanket exemption allowing trophy hunting at U.S. ranches of endangered African antelopes.

Friends of Animals ("FoA") and others sued the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior on the grounds that the Service unlawfully exempted US-bred scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelles from prohibitions against harming, harassing, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting endangered species.

Section 10 of the ESA allows some uses for "scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species," if the government publishes notice and allows for public comment for each "good faith" application for an exemption or permit at every stage of the proceeding. It does not provide a means to authorize the sport hunting of these animals.

The antelopes at issue are native to northern Africa. Today, addax and dama gazelles are nearly wiped out, due to hunting, war, desertification of habitat, human settlement and agribusiness. Scimitar-horned oryx are virtually extinct; most live on Texas hunting ranches, where they are bred. In 2005, following a Friends of Animals lawsuit, these antelopes were listed as endangered, but the government issued a rule creating a loophole for captive-bred antelope, claiming "captive breeding in the United States has contributed significantly to the conservation of these species."

"This is disingenuous," said Lee Hall, legal director for Friends of Animals, noting that the Service's exemption follows similar fragmentations of ESA listings, resulting in removal of protections for gray wolves, Gunnison's prairie dogs, and Queen Charlotte goshawks for political and commercial purposes.

Under Bush's leadership, the federal government has eroded the Act's protections to cater to local governments and special interests. In July 2008, for instance, the Service removed protections for Preble's meadow jumping mice in Wyoming while keeping the Colorado populations on the endangered species list -- so protections would end at the state line.

"The Obama administration must reject this fragmentation of the Endangered Species Act," said Hall. "We're glad the party's over for ranches that allow hunters to kill antelopes, typically pimping the oryx for around $3500 each, and the gazelles and addax for more."

The Endangered Species Act's subsection 10(c), said the court, shows that Congress intended an individualized permitting process, to provide meaningful public participation. Yet advocates have been kept from even finding out which ranches were operating under the loophole. The Safari Club, which intervened as a defendant, said advocates could find their information on the Internet.

But US District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. wrote, "Blanket exemptions under regulations are anathema to this intention because they allow the FWS to permit a great number of exemptions at once without providing the detailed information to the public that would be required in an individualized analysis."

Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral expressed appreciation for the outstanding work of the University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic. Feral added, "We are heartened by the message the federal court has sent this week against exploitation. Why would the government allow the hunting of these antelope any more than they'd allow the hunting of a chimpanzee?"

"We'd like the federal government to protect the animals currently in captivity, who number about 2000 or more, from harm at the hands of hunting enterprises."

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Comments

I was born and raised in Texas. Matter of fact on a ranch were we had cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. I bet you know all about ranching living up there in NewYork. FoA comments: Golly. Got many oryx on that there ranch? Didn't think so, but if you did, now you can't shoot them or eat them.

You city people NO NOTHING ABOUT GAME MANAGEMENT!!! You can only have so many animals per acre. It cost to keep ranches up to par. Why don’t you come down to Texas and see what we are all about. If this ban takes effect ranches will let them out there gates and they will not survive on their own. Plain and Simple. Why don’t yall pay more attention on whales and dolphins ... than what we are doing on our private lands here in Texas??? FoA comments: You seem to know nothing about Texas. Oryxes are not native to Texas. It is illegal for hunting ranches to release them into the wild. And they can no longer legally use them in their "trophy hunts" -- which is nothing about game management. Even you must know that hunting ranches are for the killing of animals that are semi-tame and can't elude capture because they are fenced in.

The Red Lechwe is extinct in Africa because the people there don't care about the animal and have taken all the land for their homes and cattle. You people would rather see them go extinct then live in Texas. Where are your brains.

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