Endangered African antelope currently preserved on Texas game ranches may have gained a stay of execution after U.S. Representative John Carter (R-TX31) passed an amendment protecting the three species from a potential court-ordered extinction in the United States.
"This is the first step towards restoring one of the most successful preservation programs ever undertaken for an endangered species," said Carter. "Our Texas game ranches took these three antelope on the brink of extinction and built their populations back to 100,000 animals. They have done so with no government funding, created thousands of hunting industry jobs in Texas, and are now providing breeding stock to restore the species in their native habitat in Africa. To allow a single radical animal rights group to destroy these magnificent animals through a court-order would be the environmental crime of the century."
The 2005 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rulings on the species allowed hunting preserves to stock, breed, hunt, and preserve the scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelle. However, a lawsuit by an extremist anti-hunting group led to the agency's revocation of those rules earlier this year, forcing game ranches to cease conservation efforts beginning in May. The court ruling has thus far eliminated an estimated 30% of the world's population of the endangered species, with virtually the entire herd expected to disappear over the next several years.
"We cannot allow extremist groups to use the courts to make legislative decisions," said Carter. "It is both ironic and an outrage that this kill-off of three endangered species was initiated through a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act, by people who would sacrifice these animals to extinction in their jihad against hunting."
The Carter Amendment reinstates the Department of the Interior rule of September 2, 2005 (70 Fed. Reg. 52310) and removes the rule from further judicial review. That rule allows Texas ranches to raise and preserve the species without permitting requirements. The amendment passed by voice vote as part of the Appropriations Committee vote on the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The Act must next be approved by the House, Senate, and President before becoming law.