Three African species of antelope, near extinction in the wild, are thriving in Texas and will continue to thrive thanks to new legislation from Congressman John Carter (R-TX31.) In January, Rep. Carter added language into the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations bills that allows owners and ranchers to participate in captive breeding without government interference, permitting them to foster thriving herds of three African antelope that have been virtually extinct in the wild.
The Scimitar Horned Oryx, Addax and Dama Gazelle, nicknamed the "Three Amigos," are flourishing on Texas ranches. Ninety percent of the world's population of these animals is in Texas, with many herds owned by central Texas residents.
"These ranchers are conservationists who have proven they know how to save these animals. This law opens the door for owners and ranchers to handle their own herds, including selective harvesting, without the federal government stepping in with burdensome regulations that could ultimately be detrimental to the growth of these breeds," said Rep. Carter.
Texans know how to run Texas best and this legislation will ensure my constituents, Texans and conservationists throughout this country can continue to protect this once endangered species and grow the economy at the same time," said Rep. Carter.
LOCAL OWNERS AND RANCHERS SOUND OFF ON THREE AMIGOS LEGISLATION
Alan McGraw, Mayor of Round Rock; Jimmy Gregory, Co-owner of Texas Disposal Systems; and Ralph Nannola, Owner of Hilltop Ranch all have herds of the Three Amigos and support the new legislation that will allow them to continue managing the species.
"Through sound management, we are watching the numbers of the animals grow. We are all conservationists who want to see these three species flourish and know the best way to help them is by getting government red tape out of the picture," said Alan McGraw, Mayor of Round Rock. "As an owner of one of the species, I want to thank Congressman Carter for his active role and commitment to this effort. There are a number of Williamson County residents who own these animals, and we thank him for really responding to an issue of his constituents."
"I am in full support of this legislation and thank Congressman Carter for his work to preserve a future for these animals," said Jimmy Gregory, Co-owner of Texas Disposal Systems and breeder of the Three Amigos. "I firmly believe this will ensure a real future for these species."
"We are the ones paying the bills and taking the risks to insure the survival of these animals and many other species. Every dollar spent on government fees and filling out reports takes both time and money away from our efforts," said Ralph Nannola, Owner of Hilltop Ranch in Williamson County. "The previous restrictions took viable resources away from a species which is not endangered in Texas, proof that the federal government doesn't always know what is best for Texans."
HISTORY OF THREE AMIGOS LEGISLATION
In 2005, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) exempted the Scimitar Horned Oryx, Addax, and Dama Gazelle from the requirements of the ESA because, while they are near extinction in their native countries, the Three Amigos are doing very well in the U.S. This is because of private ownership.
Following a successful 2012 lawsuit by the Friends of Wildlife, FWS put in place unnecessary and burdensome hurdles. These rules were discouraging many Texas conservationists.
Rep. Carter successfully added language to the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations bill to fix this problem by directing the FWS to re-issue the 2005 rule. The FY 14 Omnibus bill was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in January 2014, allowingranchers to participate in captive breeding process without a government run and burdensome permitting process.