Feds to Change African Antelope Exemption for TX Breeders, Ranchers

A new rule that requires Texas game farm operators to follow Endangered Species Act

From this story on kansascity.com:

_An unusual exemption under the U.S. Endangered Species Act that's allowed the hunting of rare African antelope will change this week, and new federal rules to protect the animals will, some say, threaten the sport. Beginning Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after losing a lawsuit from an animal rights group in 2009, will require breeders, ranchers and owners across Texas and the Southwest to follow the permitting process under the Endangered Species Act, which the hunting community says will destroy its business and lead to the decline in numbers of the antelope.

"...Included are three species, the scimitar-horned oryx, the addax and the dama gazelle. "Ranchers in this country are very private-property individuals," said Charly Seale, the executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association in Ingram, Texas, about a 90-minute drive west of San Antonio. "We bought the animals with our own money and they're telling us what to do with them. They are not anybody's animals but ours." Seale is so opposed to the permitting process that he's sold the 23 scimitar-horned oryx he was breeding._
Proponents of the exemption for Texas breeders say the program has dramatically increased numbers of the endangered species, with the number of scimitar-horned oryx growing from 32 in 1979 to 11,032 today, addax going from two to 5,112 during the same timeframe and dama increasing from nine to 894.

From the story: _"Their home country had basically annihilated them," said U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, a hunter who's been the ranchers' champion on Capitol Hill and the go-between for them with the Fish and Wildlife Service since the regulation was issued in January. The African antelope, he said, are "not an endangered species to America, where we are actually preserving the species."
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But of course the animal rights group that successfully sued to close the exemption has a different point of view.

"The reason these ranchers were given this loophole is because they were working to propagate the species," said Lee Hall, the vice president for legal affairs for Friends of Animals. Asked about the increased numbers of the endangered antelope herds, Hall said, "That's true." "But the question is does that count as conservation, to live and thrive as members of a bio-community? It's merely commercial exploitation in a strange, macabre touristy world. We wouldn't call that conservation."

Thoughts? Reaction? Anyone ever hunted one of the three affected species?