Rare Antelope Breeders|Get Breather on Permits

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Ranchers and dealers of three species of antelope listed as endangered in the wild will have more time to comply with regulations limiting trade in the species, according to an extension issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
     Natives of North Africa, the scimitar-horned oryx, addax and the dama gazelle are bred in captivity in the United States both for species conservation and trophy hunting.
     At the same time the wild populations of the three species were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, the USFWS adopted regulations authorizing certain otherwise prohibited activities associated with sustaining and increasing captive herds or potential reintroduction of the species to their native ranges.
     Conservation groups challenged the regulations and a federal court vacated them because the agency did not provide an opportunity for public input on the regulations.
     As a result, the USFWS adopted new regulations requiring ranchers and traders to obtain specific authorizations of previously approved activities like buying and selling, import and export, and hunting of the three species. The regulations also apply to parts of dead specimens, and to sperm used to artificially inseminate females.
     The USFWS has extended the date for obtaining authorizations for previously approved activities to April 4, so it can educate the public about the rule changes at industry events in the beginning of the year.
     Decimation of the three Saharan species is attributed to habitat loss caused by desertification (the Sahara Desert is expanding due to degradation of soil), competition with domestic livestock, human settlement, and regional military conflicts.
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