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Suit Filed to Stop Killing of Endangered African Antelope

October 17, 2013 | Endangered Species

FoA has filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to prevent the agency from issuing permits to Sport-Hunting Ranches that kill endangered African antelope.  You can read more about this outrageous practice here.You can also read our full complaint against U.S. FWS here and read our press release below.

 


For Immediate Release

October 16, 2013

 

Contact: Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program, Friends of Animals, 720-949-7791; michaelharris@friendsofanimals.org ; www.FriendsofAnimals.org

FOA Files Suit to Stop Killing of Endangered African Antelope on U.S. Hunting Ranches

October 16, 2013—For the second time in a decade, Friends of Animals filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the  Secretary of the Interior to address the government’s willful refusal to follow the clear dictates of Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when processing and issuing permits to allow the killing of endangered captive African antelope on U.S. sport-hunting ranches.

“A canned hunting ranch cannot fulfill the purposes of the Endangered Species Act,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “Antelopes confined at a Texas hunting ranch exist for well-heeled, trophy-shooting tourists. Exploiting these endangered antelopes is no way to save them or treat them with dignity.”

For a hefty price tag of $4,000, endangered scimitar-horned oryx gazelles, a species of antelope native to Africa, are pimped out at the Comanche Springs Ranch in Texas so “hunters” can shoot them and take them as trophies. If that’s not disturbing enough, there are an estimated 1,000 of these ranches in the United States where you can shoot oryxs, as well as addax and dama gazelles, who are also endangered.  

“The truth is, the party’s over for hunting ranches that allow trophy hunters to kill endangered antelopes, pimping scimitar-horned oryxes for around $3,500 — $5,000, and dama gazelles and addax for $10,000 or more,” Feral said.

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.

Through this action, FOA asks the Court to find unlawful and set aside the permits issued to the Comanche Springs, Thirsty River, Corley, and Las Colinas ranches (collectively the “4 Hunting Ranches”) that were issued in non-compliance with the ESA as well as 50 other permits as they lack the information  that shows the applicant is justified in obtaining a permit.  Further, because the Federal Defendants have demonstrated a pattern and practice of non-compliance with the ESA when it comes to processing permits for hunting ranches, FOA is asking the Court to also to issue an order preventing further permit processing by FWS under the guidelines.

The three species of African antelope were listed as endangered in 2005, but prior to 2011 ranchers were allowed to raise the antelope, and people were allowed to hunt them, without a permit because of a government issued rule creating a loophole for captive-bred antelope, claiming "captive breeding in the United States has contributed significantly to the conservation of these species.”  

In 2006,  FOA and others sued the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior on the grounds that the Service unlawfully exempted U.S.-bred scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelles from prohibitions against harming, harassing, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting endangered species. FOA won the case in 2009. The Court ruled that FWS violated the ESA by issuing a blanket exemption allowing trophy hunting at U.S. ranches of endangered African antelopes and required ranchers to obtain permits.

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.

“Breeding exotic animals for the purpose of killing them isn’t the same as ‘conserving’ them.  Hunting ranches are not ecosystems where animals are protected on their native lands,” Feral said.

 

Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals to live free, on their own terms. www.friendsofanimals.org

 

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