it was a rider on the budget bill and I'm glad, here's why.
Down in Texas they have this deal where you can go shoot animals that are native to Africa and Asia without leaving the US. There are high fences. Not my cup of tea but then neither is catch and release fishing. I try not to be judgemental about the way others hunt and fish especially if it is contributing to conservation.
"High Fence" often raises eyebrows in hunting circles. It can mean anything from ten acres to ten thousand, and there is a vast difference. It's not something I have a desire to do, but then there are many types of hunting I'd choose not to do, such as baiting, sitting in a tree stand, or being guided. What I like to do is irrelevant to other people's hunt. I simply wish them well and if they enjoy themselves that's great.
Three of the antelope that they "hunt", the dama gazelle, addax, and scimitar-horned oryx are way endangered. The oryx is extinct in the wild. Texas has larger populations of some animals than exist in the lands they come from.
We don't need to critique the motivations of people who pay huge amounts of money to shoot these animals to appreciate that those dollars pay for the increasing populations, something that is impossible to do right now in Africa and Asia.
Dama Gazelle image from animal info
Why did the POTUS need to sign off on a rider to the budget bill over these critters? It was correcting a mistake made in 2012. Back then for whatever reason these animals came under the regulation of the USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service) because they are endangered. In order for Texas ranchers to hunt them they had to jump through all kinds of hoops including a month prior notice. Animal rights groups would challenge hunts leading to burdensome and costly impediments to hunting. Ranchers lost interest in offering the species to hunt, and populations dropped.
If you look closely at the photos I've attached you've probably noticed that none of these species look anything like puppies or kittens. And that's the rub. Unless animals look like the animals our urban society is most familiar with and attached to, there is no interest in keeping them alive. So it's left to high fence hunters, and people like the Safari club to push legislation like this.
What's my take away thought from all this? I'd say save em. There aren't that many mammals, certainly not large ones. If saving them means them being raised by high fence operations in Texas well so be it. We in the US spend millions on a quirk in our Endangered Species Act that compels us to make efforts to save cute species living on the very edges of large and robust populations. Why not save a species that costs us the stroke of a pen and nothing more?
And President Obama? Considering everything else he has on his plate, species wise, he gets an A so far. I've no idea if he even weighs in on these decisions or if he just leaves it to Jewel and others who are supposed to know. Whoever is making the decisions they are being made based on science, not politics. Just as they should be. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say probably 100% of the Dallas Safari Club are not Obama voters, maybe 99%. Doesn't matter.