Hunters Say Protecting Species Could Hurt Them

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Safari Club International claims federal protections for three species of African antelope is having a “detrimental effect” on their conservation. Listing the species prohibits buying and trading the animals for captive-breeding programs, which raise them for hunting, the Safari Club says.
     The defendant federal agencies – the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – listed the scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle and addax as endangered in 2005.
     The antelope-like animals are native to North Africa and are critically endangered in the wild there. The scimitar-horned oryx may be extinct in the wild.
     Before the endangered listing, private breeders in the United Stated charged people to hunt for captive-bred animals here, and raised, bought, sold and traded the antelope for that.
     The Safari Club says that based on surveys by a breeders association, there were 1,824 addax and 2,145 oryx on private Texas ranches in 1996, and 369 dama gazelle in Texas as of 2003.
     The 2005 listing included a special exemption for captive populations, but Friends of Animals successfully challenged this, resulting in a 2009 ruling in District of Columbia Federal Court.
     The Fish and Wildlife Service introduced new permit rules in July this year, which the Safari Club says put new “burdens and obligations” on breeders of the endangered species.
     The club says the rules may cause breeders to abandon their efforts as no longer cost-effective – which would result in the loss of herds.
     It says the government listing would cost the world the captive breeding programs that private parties have run at no cost to the government.
     The Safari Club acknowledges that it is unclear whether the private breeding programs may contribute to reintroduction of the species in the wild.
     The club claims the Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by protecting captive-bred and raised animals, and by failing to analyze their U.S. range.
     Safari Club, represented by house attorney Anna Seidman, wants the rule set aside.
     (It is not unusual for hunters to promote conservation so they can shoot the conserved species. One of the best-known groups of this sort, Ducks Unlimited, has bought or protected more than 12 million acres since 1937, including large areas of wetlands and grasslands, to preserve breeding habitat for game birds.)

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